St. Louis increased their divisional lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates to seven games on Wednesday night after defeating them 4-2, backed by a quality start from Michael Wacha and a big night at the plate from Yadier Molina.
They looked to make it an eight game lead as the two teams faced off in the series finale on Thursday night. But on this night, the Pirates emerged victorious by starting off tremendously, winning 10-5.
The starting pitcher’s for the evening’s game were Lance Lynn (9-6, 2.76), still looking for his 10th win, and veteran Francisco Liriano (7-6, 3.13).
Right away, the Pirates came out of the gate, and had an offensive surge against Lynn, who has had his struggles against them lately. After a triple by Neil Walker, Andrew McCutcheon scored his 77th RBI by doubling Walker home, to give them an early 1-0 lead. McCutcheon soon after would be able to score on a fielding error to make it 2-0.
But that was just the beginning, as two at-bats later, Pedro Alvarez hit a two-run home run to make it 4-0 Pirates. It was Alvarez’s 17th home run of the season. Later, after Francisco Cervelli reached base, Liriano singled to left field, scoring Cervelli as it suddenly became a 5-0 Pittsburgh lead.
For Lynn, the final nail in the coffin came when Gregory Polanco scored Travis Ishikawa as it then turned into a 6-0 lead. Tyler Lyons entered the game afterwards, and Lynn’s final line was: 0.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 Ks. He also threw 41 pitches in arguably his roughest outing of the season.
In the bottom of the first inning, however, the Cardinals were able to get on board, and put at least a little dent in the Pirates’ lead. Matt Carpenter got on with a lead-off walk, and Randal Grichuk singled. After Jason Heyward reached base, Molina hit a two-RBI double, and the Cardinals trailed 7-2. Heyward was thrown out at third base during the play, taking him out of scoring position.
Lyons, who hasn’t seen much action on a major league roster since the return of Jaime Garcia, had himself a good outing, shutting out the Pirates through five innings. His final line of the evening: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks.
St. Louis was able to add another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Jhonny Peralta led off with a single, with Heyward hitting an infield single during the next at-bat. Molina walked to load the bases up for Kolten Wong. And Wong hit into a fielder’s choice to score Peralta and make it 7-3. However, that turned out to be the only run they scored in the inning. They later added a run in both the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, keeping the game close at hand, as the Busch Stadium crowd remained in their seats despite the rough 7-0 start.
The Pirates added three more runs in the top of the ninth inning to add to their lead, making it 10-5. St. Louis, despite plenty of opportunities, could not make the full comeback, being prevented of the sweep by Pittsburgh. Liriano improves to 8-6, and Lynn falls to 9-7. The Cardinals are now 73-41, and the Pirates improve to 66-46. Meanwhile, the Cardinals still hold a 6.0 lead ahead of the Pirates in the National League Central division.
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