ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' performance at the plate Sunday indicated that Saturday's production represented a momentary blip rather than a paradigm shift.
The lack of run production, a problem since the season's first week but particularly in a recent four-game losing streak, continued in Sunday's 7-0 loss against Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Pirates lost their fifth game out of six and eighth out of 10. Since April 10, when they were 6-3, they are 4-13.
"We've got to find a way to get more runs on the board," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We're all working in that direction. We haven't had the results that we want and we're going to need so far."
The Pirates scored four combined runs in their four-game skid, then put six on the board in a win Saturday. In their past eight games they have scored 18 runs and been shut out twice.
"It doesn't show on stats, but there's been a lot of hard-hit balls that are just not falling," first baseman Ike Davis said. "That will turn. We'll start getting our cheap hits and our balls hit hard to fall and start putting up more runs."
They got nothing against Wainwright (5-1), who pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed three hits, all singles and none well-struck. Wainwright has not allowed a run for 25 consecutive innings.
"He just mixes pitches very well," Davis said. "Everything's moving different ways."
Six of the Cardinals' runs came against Edinson Volquez, who faltered for the first time after a strong start to the season. Jhonny Peralta hit two home runs for the Cardinals, who were also starved for run production, particularly in the case of the long ball.
The Cardinals entered the game with 12 home runs, the fewest in the National League, and without a home run in their previous 354 at-bats. Peralta hit a solo home run in the fifth and a three-run shot in the sixth that forced Volquez from the game. Volquez (1-2) allowed six runs on seven hits in 52/3 innings.
The Pirates didn't record a hit until the third inning when Tony Sanchez led off with an infield single. Volquez followed with a bloop single to center. Neither runner would get any farther. Starling Marte bunted into a force out at third, Jose Tabata flied out and Andrew McCutchen struck out.
"Not getting the bunt down to the third baseman and getting guys with second and third and Tabata and McCutchen coming up hurt," Hurdle said. "That might have been a window of opportunity there and that was basically the last real shot we had at [Wainwright]."
Matt Carpenter doubled to right field to start the bottom of the first. Jon Jay's sacrifice bunt pushed Carpenter to third and Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly drove home the runner for an early 1-0 lead.
Volquez left a 1-1 curveball a touch too high to Peralta in the fifth, and Peralta hit it 407 feet into the upper deck to put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0.
Holliday and Matt Adams singled with one out in the sixth. Yadier Molina grounded into what might have been an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play, but first-base umpire Ted Barrett ruled that Davis' foot came off the bag as he stretched for Neil Walker's throw.
"My foot doesn't move at all until I roll off," said Davis, who watched the replay. "I caught it and there's at least a half a second where my foot hasn't moved."
Hurdle challenged, but the play stood because there was no "clear and convincing" evidence to overturn it.
"I think if he gets called out and [Cardinals manager] Mike [Matheny] challenges, he stays out," Hurdle said. "He's called safe, I think he stays safe."
The play extended the inning. Allen Craig hit an RBI single before Peralta hit his second home run of the game, this one into the Pirates bullpen, to add three runs to the Cardinals' lead. The way Wainwright was pitching, the four-run sixth inning didn't much matter.
"He's unbelievable," Volquez said, laughing. "He's a superstar. There's nothing you can do."
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 27, 2014 4:57 PM