It was a week ago when the Cardinals and Pirates faced off in a three game series at Busch Stadium. St. Louis would sweep that series, with every win being a walk off, and the final win in the series occurring in the 14th inning in a four and a half hour game.
Starting on Friday, May 8th, these two National League Central rivals clashed in a three game series once again, but this time, in Pittsburgh. The game was also a rematch of the last series, as Michael Wacha (4-0, 1.93), faced off against Francisco Liriano (1-1, 1.95).
The first inning started with the Cardinals going down in order in the top of the first inning. During the bottom half of the inning, despite a good start, Starling Marte scored on an error by third baseman Pete Kozma, who for the weekend has been playing for Matt Carpenter, who has remained in St. Louis due to a case of what is deemed “extreme fatigue”.
Leading off for St. Louis in the second, Jhonny Peralta immediately tied the game at 1-1 with a solo home run to center field, his fourth of the season. Wacha pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the second inning, to keep the game tied.
Liriano returned to the mound to start off the top of the third inning, first to face off against Wacha, who reached on a fielding error by Josh Harrison. Peter Bourjos came up to bat next, and doubled, putting runners on second and third. After a pop-out by Kolten Wong, left fielder Matt Holliday stepped up, and when a pitch was thrown right down the middle by Liriano, Holliday took full advantage, launching it over 400 feet to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead.
But Pittsburgh cut the Cardinals lead in half in their part of the third, when Marte singled to left, scoring Neil Walker, who was hit by a pitch earlier. With Marte on first and Andrew McCutchen on second, Pedro Alvarez struck out, ending the inning.
From the fourth through the top of the sixth innings, both Wacha and Liriano pitched shutout baseball, as the game remained in favor of the Cardinals with a 4-2 lead. In the top of the sixth, Peralta, Mark Reynolds, and Jason Heyward all struck out swinging, three of the 10 total strikeouts Pittsburgh had issued to St. Louis during the match-up on Friday night.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, McCutchen doubled to deep center field to start it off. Marte then singled to right, as McCutchen advanced to third. Álvarez followed by hitting in a fielder’s choice, allowing McCutchen to score, as Marte was out at second.
This cut the lead to 4-3 Cardinals heading into the top of the seventh.
As the seventh inning began, with Liriano still on the mound, Yadier Molina led off with a double, and later would advance to third base after a passed ball by catcher Francisco Cerevilli. Jon Jay would then pinch-hit for Wacha, and singled to center-field, scoring Molina, as the Cardinals took a 5-3 lead. Bourjos later hit a double, and with two runners on, with Wong at the plate, he would crush a three-run home run to the upper deck in right field, giving the Cardinals an 8-3 lead.
Matt Belisle relieved Wacha in the seventh, and would pitch a scoreless half inning until Walker stepped up and hit a single to center field, scoring Jung Ho Kang, cutting the St. Louis lead to 8-4. That would be the last run they would score of the inning.
In the top of the eighth, Radhames Liz pitched in relief for the Pirates, and pitched a shutoff half inning. Meanwhile, Seth Maness entered to relieve Belisle, and it started with an infield single by Harrison, as well as a single Cerevilli. Corey Hart entered the game, and, despite hitting into a double play (a specialty for Maness), Harrison scored to make it an 8-5 score, but for Pittsburgh, that would be all they would get for the remainder of the game, as, after a scoreless top of the ninth, Trevor Rosenthal entered in the bottom of the ninth, and would get his 11th save of the season.
St. Louis would win their 22nd game (they are now 22-7) of the year in their 8-5 victory, as Wacha improves to 5-0, while Liriano falls to 1-2. Rosenthal also tied Al Hrabosky on the Cardinals’ all-time saves list with 59 career saves. The final line of the evening for Wacha: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. His strikeout count has been lower this season than it normally is, but it doesn’t take away from how he has been performing.
Tomorrow’s game will have Carlos Martinez on the mound for the Cardinals, as he goes for win number four.
(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)