ST. LOUIS -- The positive to pitching in the Pirates' minor league system is that there exists no better opportunity in the sport for career advancement.
Well, just ask Jason Davis after he was slammed for eight runs, nine hits and three walks over 3 2/3 innings of an 11-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals last night at Busch Stadium.
For that matter, ask John Van Benschoten.
Or Jimmy Barthmaier.
Or Yoslan Herrera.
"Jason left some balls out over the plate, and they took advantage," manager John Russell said. "He's been throwing the ball well. He just didn't make his pitches tonight. The location wasn't good. The command of the fastball wasn't sharp. Too many mistakes."
The point about Davis faring well previously is indisputable, certainly as compared to others promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis or Class AA Altoona this summer: He had made six appearances with a 1.80 ERA, and that included two respectable starts leading into this one.
Still, the game can seem cruelest to those who sense a chance squandered, and that might have been the case here.
Sometime soon, for sure by September, Tom Gorzelanny and Ross Ohlendorf will be promoted from Class AAA Indianapolis and inserted into the rotation. A quality showing by Davis last night might have pushed management to consider bumping someone else when that happens -- Zach Duke, perhaps? -- rather than go for the obvious choice, the 28-year-old fresh up from the minors.
"You don't think about that," Davis said. "You just think about doing your job and going out there and competing. I put enough pressure on myself to go out there and perform. I don't need any added pressure."
St. Louis scored twice in the second, three more in each of the next two innings. In the third, Rick Ankiel crushed an 86-mph fastball -- about 3 mph slower than Davis' modest standard -- 406 feet into the center-field seats. In the fourth, hit after hit was followed by a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to Troy Glaus that prompted Russell out of the dugout.
It was 8-2, and even the 37,269 partisans on hand seemed bored by that point.
The main difference between this Davis showing and holding the New York Mets to two runs over seven innings Friday at PNC Park, Russell said, was an inability to keep his fastball down or his breaking pitches off the heart of the plate.
"And you can't do that against a lineup like that," Russell said.
Davis cited another shortcoming: He fell behind 14 of 23 batters and put the leadoff man aboard all four times.
"When you keep falling behind guys, the first guy keeps getting on, then you're trying to overthrow to get a ground ball ... that makes it tough," Davis said. "My job's to go out there and give the team a chance to win, eat some innings. I didn't do that."
Craig Hansen gave up Jason LaRue's two-run home run in the seventh that put St. Louis ahead, 10-2.
"Shows you we can do it," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said a day after his lineup was silenced by the Pirates, 4-1. "A lot of good at-bats. A lot of clutch innings."
Not much else mattered.
Ryan Doumit had his second three-hit output in as many nights, including a two-run home run -- his 13th -- off Todd Wellemeyer that briefly tied the score at 2-2 in the third. That raised his average to .333.
"I'm feeling good up there, but it's not something you want to talk too much about it," Doumit said.
Nyjer Morgan, subbing again for ill Nate McLouth, reached three times out of the leadoff spot with a double and two walks.
The Cardinals salvaged a split of the two-game set.
Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at email@example.com.