The Bucs got their first knock with two outs in the second, when Pedro lined a 3-2 splitter off a diving David Descalso's mitt, with no further damage. Yadier Molina opened by lasering a double to left center when a 1-2 curve flattened out, and tagged to third when Jon Jay's fly to right caused JT to backpedal a couple of steps. But a K, intentional walk and another K ended the threat.
Pittsburgh tried again with two gone in the third when Starling Marte and Jose Tabata bounced consecutive bleeders through the left side. Cutch skied out to right to end the rally. He's the only guy to get Westbrook in the air; he's done a good job of keeping the ball down so far. AJ tossed a clean frame.
The Pirates got a one-out knock by Inge for their efforts in the fourth. AJ ran into control problems with two down, catching Jay on the back heel with an 0-2 curve and losing Pete Kozma after being up 1-2. Then he walked Descalso on a 3-2 pitch, trying to get him to chase with Westbrook coming up. AJ tossed two quick strikes, then missed with three down and away before getting him looking at a fastball. Whew! But the frame has run his pitch count up to 77; looks like no rest for the pen today.
Not much luck for the Bucs in the fifth. Barmes led off with a knock up the middle that just slid under Kozma;s glove. AJ struck himself out; he mouthed off after a strike call on an outside pitch (which had been a strike all day), bunted foul and was rung up on another pitch away and maybe down as ump Mike Winters showed him who was boss. Marte smoked a ball to short; it ended up a DP as Barmes was caught in no mans land. AJ put away the Cards 1-2-3.
JT and Cutch both ran up full counts; both grounded out softly on ball four. Jones rolled a knock into right, but Inge popped out to end the frame. The Bucs have six hits; four have been two-out singles and only one runner has made it to second. AJ got the first two hitters on three pitches when the back end of the order bit him again. He fell behind Jay, who banged a 3-1 heater to right for a double.
Then Kozma ran the count full and sent another heater up the middle to give the Cards a 2-0 lead. Though laboring, he stayed in (the pitcher is due up fourth next inning) and got Descalso to fly out on another 3-2 pitch, his 110th of the game. AJ went six, giving up two runs on five hits with three walks (one intentional) and six K. Westbrook left too, giving up six hits and collecting six K after 91 tosses.
Joe Kelly came on for St. Louis, and the Card bullpen is what you like to see. Pedro drilled a single up the middle and Martin took the next pitch deep the opposite way to tie the game. Barmes followed with another knock. J-Mac bunted three foul for the first out. Kelly made up for it by walking Marte on five pitches, bringing out Mike Matheny, who waved in Trevor Rosenthal.
He threw a wild pitch to move up the runners and bring the infield in before drilling JT in the side on a 3-2 heater to jam the sacks for Cutch. He worked the count to 3-2, fouled off a couple, and drew the RBI walk. Jones got ahead 3-0, and in a pretty classic delaying move, Matheny called on the ump to spread some sawdust on the hill. It killed a few minutes as his Rosenthal regrouped, the bullpen warmed and the soft drizzle continued. Jones also ran the count full, and his little tapper to second, bobbled by Descalso to kill any DP hopes, brought home another run. Inge popped out to end the frame, but the Bucs had the lead at 4-2.
Tony Watson came in to face Shane Robinson, and after getting ahead 1-2 threw three straight inside to lose him. No problem; using heat inside and a change, he got a pop from Matt Carpenter and caught Beltran and Holliday looking. Marc Rzepczynski took the soggy hill to start the eighth. With one away, Martin doubled to left and Barmes walked on five pitches. With Gaby pinch hitting, the call went for righty Fernando Salas. A short wild pitch moved Martin to third - Barmes froze at first - and Sanchez's sac fly made it 5-2.
Mark Melancon trotted in, with Gaby at first and Old McDonald at second. He gave up a leadoff double to Craig, but kept him from coming around to maintain the pad. Mitchell Boggs took the ball for the Cards. After getting two outs - one a liner by Cutch that hung up - he walked John McDonald, batting .067, and gave up a pinch single to *tada* Wandy Rodriguez, but managed to close out the frame, snagging Pedro's bullet back to the box.
Jason Grilli gave up a one-out single to Robinson, who strolled to second on defensive indifference. After striking out Jermaine Curtis, he gave up an RBI double to Beltran on a 3-2 fastball, the first run allowed by Grilli this year. That was it; he nailed Holliday on a grounder to short to bring home the win.
AJ is now 2-2 and Grilli has 10 saves as the Bucs move back within 1/2 game of the Central Division lead.
Jeff Locke and Shelby Miller get it on tomorrow.
- In case you're wondering who Root Sports 800 pound gorilla is, it's the Pens. The Bucco game was cut off with two on and two out in the ninth to switch to Consol. Ratings talk...
- The 6-7-8 guys pulled off the win today. Pedro, Russell Martin and Clint Barmes each had two knocks, scored four times and drove in a pair.
- Travis Snider was a late scratch with "discomfort" in his left side, leaving the Bucs with a short bench (Neil Walker is also out) to go with a short pen.
- Mark Melancon threw 21 pitches in the eighth, his season high. Prior to today, he hadn't thrown over 18 tosses in an appearance.
- Starling Marte now owns a seven game hitting streak.
- Jonathan Sanchez was fined and suspended six games for beaning Allen Craig. He's appealing the suspension so will be in the bullpen today.
- AJ fell short in his last start of the month of joining the exclusive club of guys who struck out 50 batters in April, as he finished with 48.