St. LOUIS -- The Pirates once hot 1-2 combination of Starling Marte and Neil Walker at the top of the order has fallen cold in the National League Division Series.
The pair is a combined 1 for 31 with two walks in the series, but have retained the faith of their manager who suspects tonight will be their night when the Pirates face St. Louis in a decisive Game 5.
"No I'm not contemplating any changes," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle Tuesday afternoon. "These men are both capable.
"They've both have done it in the past. I have every confidence that [Wednesday] night will be the night they'll get going."
Marte, who returned down the stretch from a hand injury, is 1 for 15 against St. Louis in four games with a home run, walk, four strikeouts, and one stolen base.
Walker is 0 for 16, drawing one walk and striking out four times.
Hurdle said after the Game 4 loss Monday that both players are struggling to work the count in their favor and find a pitch to hit.
"We got to find an answer here the day after tomorrow. We would like to get a little better action up top. These guys are trying, they're working," said Hurdle.
"They tried to work counts at times. I think where a little patience might help at times, and the time you do take it, it seems like it's always a strike.
"We just got to keep grinding -- they have to get in there and keep trying. Both are capable."
Marte has hit .167 in his brief career against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, but Walker is a career 6 for 19 (.316) with six RBIs against him.
"We've stared adversity in the face several times," Walker said after the loss Monday. "This is another challenge, and we'll be ready to go."
Pedro Alvarez has a .313 batting average in the postseason and a torrid .385 against the Cardinals in the NLDS with five hits, three home runs and five RBIs.
He broke up Michael Wacha's no-hitter in Game 4 Monday with a crushing solo homer to right-center and drove in the go-ahead runs against left-hander Kevin Siegrist in the eighth inning Sunday despite hitting just .180 against left-handers this year.
Starters in the bullpen?
With the stakes of an elimination game so high, Hurdle was asked if any of his starters would be available from the bullpen tonight.
His answer made it seem as if only A.J. Burnett was a possibility.
"We're going to talk to the guys. [Francisco] Liriano pretty much poured his whole tank out the other day. He's been dealing with a little bit of the flu. I think he's better," said Hurdle.
"A.J.'s preparation is such, we haven't talked to him, but, usually, he's been doing this for so many years he takes a nice routine to get in line to go. I'm not sure.
"We feel confident we've got the pitching we're going to need. But we're going to have that conversation again."
Prime-time Game 5
The Pirates and Cardinals will be the prime-time matchup for TBS, getting the 8:07 p.m. slot after the Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up their series against Atlanta Monday night.
The coverage of the TBS tripleheader Monday -- Cardinals-Pirates, Boston-Tampa Bay, Atlanta-Los Angeles --drew 11 percent more total viewers than a year ago according to Turner Sports, or 3.8 million viewers to 3.4 million.
First Published October 8, 2013 8:00 PM