The St. Louis Cardinals wore out the Pirates' outfielders tonight.
Ball after ball rebounded off the wall or bounced to the warning track as the Cardinals pounded away at James McDonald. McDonald failed to finish the second inning during the Pirates' 10-6 loss to the Cardinals at PNC Park, the second start in a row for McDonald in which the opponent took advantage of him in the early innings.
McDonald finished 1 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs, three of them earned, on eight hits and two walks.
After seven innings of one-run ball in his first start of the season, McDonald struggled early in his second start, allowing four runs in the first inning to the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 9. He calmed down enough to make it through five innings and earn the win.
On Monday, McDonald's fastball topped out at 92 miles per hour and sat between 89 and 91 mph. He can hit 94. Entering the game, his average fastball velocity was 89.8 mph, according to Fangraphs.com, down from 91.8 last year.
McDonald's performance adds another variable to the Pirates pitching situation. Wandy Rodriguez missed a start because of a strained left hamstring, although he expects to make his next one. Jonathan Sanchez, who takes the mound today, is coming off a disastrous outing against the Diamondbacks in his previous start.
The Cardinals sent 11 men to the plate in the second inning and came away with seven runs on five hits, four of which were doubles. David Freese walked with one out and had to stop at third when Pete Kozma's double one-hopped the wall. Lance Lynn grounded out before Jon Jay doubled for his second hit of the night, scoring two runs.
McDonald walked Matt Carpenter and induced a slow grounder to short from Matt Holliday. Clint Barmes made the scoop but his throw was off target, allowing a run to score and extending the inning. After three more hits, manager Clint Hurdle had seen enough.
Justin Wilson allowed two runs in 3 1/3 innings of relief and Bryan Morris pitched three scoreless innings.
The Cardinals had a chance at a big first inning, but base-running errors limited the damage to one run. They led off with three consecutive hits, the third of which was a single off the right-field wall by Holliday.
The ball ricocheted past Travis Snider to Andrew McCutchen, who started a relay to the plate, but Jay and Carpenter held up at second and third. Holliday had nearly reached second before realizing Carpenter was still there and the Pirates caught him in a rundown.
Allen Craig grounded to third base, scoring Jay, but Carpenter ran to third and was out when Pedro Alvarez went to the bag after fielding the ball.
The Pirates offense produced against a Cardinals pitching staff that did not allow a run during a recent three-game stretch. Lynn earned the win and allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings.
Neil Walker hit his first home run of the season in the third, scoring McCutchen and cutting the Cardinals' lead to 10-4.
Marc Rzepczynski allowed the Pirates to rally in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Jose Tabata singled and Russell Martin took a pitch off his right foot to put two on with no outs. After Clint Barmes flied out, Michael McKenry singled to score Tabata and Starling Marte singled to score Martin.
Rzepczynski retired Snider and McCutchen, stranding two men on base and ending the threat.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 16, 2013 2:45 AM