ST. LOUIS — Given the offensive output in the previous three games, the Pirates’ performance at the plate Friday night wasn’t terribly surprising. Who it came against made it seem more out of the ordinary.
Shelby Miller navigated early trouble, but held the Pirates scoreless in his start. That start turned into his first win against the Pirates, a 1-0 victory at Busch Stadium.
Neither team entered the series playing particularly good baseball. The Pirates had lost three games in a row, six of seven and 11 of their previous 14, including a 2-6 record on their recent homestand. They scored a combined four runs in their past three games.
The Cardinals had lost six of their previous nine before Friday night, including two games on the road against the New York Mets in which they scored three combined runs.
“We were well aware of the way they were playing coming in,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You know they’re a good team.”
Miller represented an opportunity for the Pirates. He entered the game 0-5 with a 5.93 ERA in 271⁄3 innings while facing the Pirates, who had hit .315 with nine home runs against him.
Miller (2-2) pitched 52⁄3 scoreless innings Friday and allowed three hits and four walks, striking out four. The Pirates went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position, left eight on base and twice left the bases loaded.
“Of the nine frames, we had three shots to put some runs on the board and we weren’t able to do it,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates’ inability to score overshadowed a solid outing from Gerrit Cole, who has allowed two runs in his past 15 innings. He pitched seven innings of one-run ball Friday. Cole relied on his fastball through the middle innings until he rediscovered his off-speed pitches in the sixth and seventh.
The Pirates returned to St. Louis for the first time since October for Game 5 of the National League Division Series, when the Cardinals eliminated the Pirates from the playoffs. Cole started that game as well.
Russell Martin, who was a late scratch from the lineup Wednesday and did not play Thursday either, left the game Friday in the sixth inning. The team announced that Martin left the game due to tightness in his left hamstring, which Hurdle said had bothered Martin in the past, but Hurdle said that might not have been the case Friday. Hurdle did not say what, if any, other issues Martin was dealing with.
“Russ has been eating it up for a while,” Cole said.
Matt Carpenter bunted his way on base for a single to lead off the first. Carpenter advanced on a grounder and scored on Matt Holliday’s double to give the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. Holliday went 3 for 3.
“The guy has been playing for 15 years,” Cole said. “He knows what he’s doing.”
Two singles, including one by Cole, and a walk loaded the bases for the Pirates with one out in the third, but Andrew McCutchen grounded into an inning-ending double play.
A successful Pirates challenge prevented a run in the third. Jon Jay walked with one out. Holliday singled through the hole between first and second, and Jay had to pause on the basepath to allow the ball the pass in front of him. He slid into third as Pedro Alvarez applied the tag, after a great throw from Travis Snider, and third-base umpire Ted Barrett, the crew chief, ruled Jay safe on a close play.
Hurdle challenged and won, and Jay was ruled out. Matt Adams, the next batter, singled, which would have scored a run. Yadier Molina grounded out to end the inning and the Cardinals did not score.
Carlos Martinez allowed the Pirates to load the bases in the eighth, but struck out Alvarez and Chris Stewart to leave them loaded.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 25, 2014 11:31 PM