Pujols Drives In Two As Cardinals Even Series With Bucs

By Chad Carlson

Overbay’s HR was the Pirates’ Only Offense Of The Game (AP)

Fresh off another impressive road victory last night, the Pittsburgh Pirates faced off against the St. Louis Cardinals for the second time in the three game series.  James McDonald made his 2011 regular season debut for the Buccos, while the Cardinals sent Kyle McClellan to the hill.  McClelland was making his first start in the Major Leagues after 202 relief appearances.
The Pirates jumped out to an early lead tonight in the first inning against St. Louis.  After a Jose Tabata double to start the game, Lyle Overbay crushed a two-run homerun to deep right field, giving the Buccos the early 2-0 advantage.
Following the first inning, however, McClelland settled down and got into quite the rhythm against the Pirates’ batter.  He struck out a total of seven batters, and finished his six innings of work having only given up the two runs on six hits and walking one batter.
McDonald’s performance tonight didn’t match up to those of his predecessors the previous days before.  James struggled with his control throughout the evening, walking four batters. 
After blanking the Cardinals through three innings, McDonald finally opened the door of opportunity in the fourth frame.  Allen Craig singled to centerfield, scoring Lance Berkman and cutting the Pirates’ lead in half.  The Cardinals followed that up the very next inning as Ryan Theriot scored on Albert Pujols’s sacrifice fly to right center, tying the game 2-2.
McDonald lasted just 4.2 innings, giving up two runs on four hits, and again, the four walks.  Above everything else, his control (or lack thereof) tonight is of most concern.  Still, James did enough to keep the Pirates in the baseball game.  Again, this is something that we have been stressing was of extreme importance for the team to remain competitive.  In that regard, McDonald did his job…but it would’ve been nice to have him go AT LEAST five or six innings.
The Cardinals took the lead in the seventh inning off the bat of Pujols, who drove in his second run of the game on a seeing-eye single just past the outstretched reach of Pedro Alvarez.  Theriot crossed the plate and St. Louis led for the first time of the night, 3-2.
The Buccos threatened in the eighth inning to tie the game.  With two outs, Andrew McCutchen singled to right field, and Lyle Overbay walked, setting the stage for Alvarez.  Unfortunately, Pedro struck out on four pitches, ending the inning and the threat.
The Pirates and Cardinals played a close game tonight.  These are the types of games that, while it’s always difficult to lose, fans can at least find some satisfaction in the fact it was  highly competitive game that essentially came down to Albert Pujols sneaking a ground ball past the infield.  That was the main difference in the game.  McDonald’s control was bothersome, but the bullpen, overall, did a nice job keeping the Pirates in the game. 
Overbay and McCutchen each had a pair of hits tonight, while Alvarez and Neil Walker were held hitless, striking out three times each.
The earned run in the seventh was charged to Garrett Olson, but Jeff Karstens and Chris Resop each pitched scoreless baseball, which is a positive for Pittsburgh fans.  The Buccos struck out eleven times tonight, something that has been a constant throughout the season so far. 
The rubber match is set for tomorrow afternoon at Busch Stadium, as the Pirates will look to win their second consecutive road series to begin the 2011 season.  Kevin Correia will take the mound for the Pirates tomorrow.

Record Vs. Cardinals: 1-1
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 3-2
Record On The Road: 3-2
Overall Record: 3-2

As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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