by Zane Heiple
|Photo by AP|
The Pittsburgh Pirates came into Sunday’s game with the St. Louis Cardinals in the midst of a three game losing streak and were a day away from heading on a seven game road trip against the top two teams in the National League. This game may have not been a must win, but it was very important to notch a win against their Central Division rival.
Charlie Morton had an ok start going 5.1 innings giving up three runs on six hits while striking out three and walking five. This has seemed to be the trend of the pitching staff lately after they got off to a red hot start to begin the season. Outings like this have showed how the Pirates lack of offense is of much concern to the team if they hope to remain a contender in the division race.
The offense received some help from some unlikely sources today. This was important considering the likes of Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen went a combined 1-7. Eric Fryer was able to come around and tie the game at one in the third inning. He would reach base on a single and then while stealing second base, an error by SS Ryan Theriot would allow him to reach third. Chase d’Arnaud brought Fryer home on a double.
After the Cardinals regained the lead in the top of the fifth, Pittsburgh was able to tie the game when Morton helped his own cause on a sacrifice fly that would score Ronny Cedeno. St. Louis did not waste any time regaining the lead in the sixth as the first batter of the inning, Colby Rasmus, hit a solo home run to right field.
The seventh inning looked like it could have been a big one for the Buccos, as Cedeno would lead off with a double and would be followed up by a Fryer single. Unfortunately, Steve Pearce would ground into a double play, that would score a run, but would put an end to any thought of the big inning occurring.
The Pittsburgh bullpen closed the door on the Cards offense as the combo of Jason Grilli, Chris Resop, Joel Hanrahan, and Joe Beimel pitched 4.2 innings allowing only four hits and not allowing a run. This type of pitching allowed the team to win it in the tenth inning. Xavier Paul would single with one out to give the Pirates a sign of life. He would then steal second and advance to third on a throwing error by Gerald Laird. This allowed d’Arnaud to be the hero with a sacrifice fly to center allowing Paul to cross the plate and give the Pirates a 4-3 victory.
The Pirates stepped up and avoided the sweep today. What impressed me the most was that they were able to capitalize on the mistakes made by the Cardinals, and they did it players that no one really knew about before the season started. With this win and the Milwaukee Brewers loss, the Pirates will head to Atlanta tomorrow in a three way tie for first place. The four game series with the Braves will begin tomorrow with first pitch scheduled for 7:00. The pitching matchup will feature James McDonald of the Pirates taking on Tim Hudson of the Braves.
Record vs. Cardinals: 3-3
Record vs. N.L. Central: 25-16
Record at Home: 26-25
Overall Record: 52-47
Let’s Go Bucs!!!