It was not a promising start for Paul Maholm. Rafael Furcal bounced a ball into left to open the game. In a long, nine pitch at-bat by Allen Craig, PM tossed a 3-2 heater and watched it disappear into the night for Craig's fifth tater to give the Cards a quick 2-0 lead. It didn't get a whole lot prettier.
Albert Pujols lined a single and Matt Holliday walked on four pitches. David Freese stopped the bleeding temporarily when hit smacked into an around the horn DP, but Yadier Molina kept the pedal to the metal with a two-out knock to chase Pujols home. Ryan Theriot added a knock before Jon Jay lined out to bring the frame to a close. It was 3-0 before the Bucs jogged off the field.
The Pirates tried to answer against Kyle Lohse. With an out, Garrett Jones hit a ground rule double to right, followed by a infield knock by McCutch; Jones had to hold on the bleeder. Dewey drilled one to the wall, but it was just a 399' long fly out. Neil Walker fell behind 0-2, but hung in to draw a walk to load the sacks. With the bases juiced, Ryan Ludwick hit a liner to right that Craig corralled. The Cards score three, the Bucs strand three in the opening inning.
PM calmed down in the second, giving up a one-out double to Furcal. The Bucs got a one away knock from Ronny Cedeno, but he never reached second. It was more of the same in the third. St. Louis got a two out single from Molina while the Bucs went down in order. It was still 3-0 after three. The Redbirds went down in order in the fourth; the Pirates struck out three time against Lohse in their half.
Craig continued to torment Maholm, leading off the fifth with a double. But three grounders later, he was left standing on third. Cedeno led off with a double, and Clint Hurdle sent Steve Pearce up to hit for Maholm. He flew out, but JT didn't. He whacked a 3-1 sinker into the seats above the Clemente Wall to pull the Bucs within a run at 3-2.
Maholm went five innings, giving up three runs on eight hits with a walk and K while serving up 83 pitches. We were sorta surprised at that spot that Hurdle didn't try to get another inning out of him. As it ended up, it would have been the smart play with a short bullpen.
Brad Lincoln came out of the pen for the sixth, his first appearance in a week. With an out, Theriot and Jay singled; a passed by Dewey moved them up a station. A weak grounder by Lohse left Cedeno with only a play to first, and the Cards were up 4-2. The Pirates went down in order.
Craig, who's been Sir Albert Jr. tonight, led off the seventh with a homer to left to up the St. Louis lead to 5-2. The Pirates were again put down 1-2-3.
D-Mac came on in the eighth and couldn't get a break. Molina lined a single and then stole second, his third swipe of the year. After an out, Jones muffed a grounder to first and there were runners at the corners. Lance Berkman pinch hit and punched a single through the right side to plate Molina. After a K, Craig got his fourth knock when he dinked an infield single to third; Craig came in from second, and it was 7-2 Cardinals.
Octavio Dotel retired his old hoodies cleanly; that's eleven Buc in a row chopped down. Joe Beimel took the hill in the ninth, and put up a zero, allowing a one out single to Daniel Descalso. Mark Rzepczynski worked the ninth. With two away, Ludwick singled, and the mad scientist in Tony LaRussa took over; he brought in Kyle McClelland with two away and a five run lead. Whatever. It worked as Wood bounced out after a wild pitch, and the Bucs went down 7-2.
Not much to say. The pitching, fielding and hitting all went south on Pittsburgh tonight. The only thing that kept the score down was that the Cards were only 3-for-16 with RISP. And the bullpens guys that Hurdle used were the ones he had to work with; Hanny, Jose Veras and Chris Resop were due a day off after a lot of recent work. With tomorrow off, everyone should be ready to go for Cincy, which rolls into town Friday for a three game set.
- Tonight was the seventh time this season that the Pirates had taken a two games to none series lead at PNC Park and failed to win the third game for the sweep.
- 22,296 fans came out for the rubber match tonight.
- The Bucs are looking at bringing Ohlie back for the Monday doubleheader against the Brew Crew. He'll probably swap places with Bad Brad Lincoln, who has become the Pedro Ciriaco of the bullpen. We're not sure why you'd take a starter out of the Indy rotation just to have him gather dust as a reliever. It would have made more sense to keep Tony Watson around, we think.
- Evan meek could start his rehab assignment as soon as this weekend at High A Bradenton.