ST. LOUIS — Justin Wilson had not allowed a home run all season. With two St. Louis Cardinals lefties due up in the bottom of the ninth, Wilson took the mound trying to preserve a scoreless tie after Charlie Morton’s gem of a start.
Wilson allowed a walk-off home run to Matt Adams in the Pirates’ 2-0 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium Monday night. The Cardinals ended the Pirates’ three-game winning streak and reclaimed second place in the National League Central.
Matt Carpenter walked to lead off the ninth inning. Matt Holliday flied out before Adams hit an 0-1 curveball out to right field.
“Bad pitch, good hitting,” Wilson said. “Probably the worst time to hang a breaking ball there.”
Wilson had struggled in late May and June, but had not allowed a run in his previous seven appearances.
“Felt good on the mound lately,” Wilson said. “I had a rough go of it to start the season. I felt I was getting back on track. One pitch tonight, really. Good job of hitting by him. Like I said, I just got to bounce that one.”
Adams had two of the Cardinals’ three hits Monday night as Morton stymied them. The Pirates couldn’t score against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, but not for lack of opportunity: They went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 men on base.
“I don’t think he probably had his ‘A’ command and we did get some good looks,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
A 47-minute weather delay pushed back the start of the game as thunderstorms rolled through the area.
There is no good time to run into Wainwright, but the Pirates drew him during a particularly strong period. In five starts since the beginning of June prior to Monday’s game, Wainwright had an 0.93 ERA and had allowed 26 hits in 382/3 innings. Wainwright’s 1.89 ERA led the majors and his 124 innings pitched ranked third in the National League despite one missed start due to elbow tendinitis.
Wainwright pitched with men on base for most of his start, but held the Pirates scoreless through seven innings. They recorded seven hits and walked three times against him but couldn’t do anything with them. Wainwright walked more than two batters for only the third time this season.
“He showed his ability and his resiliency to continue to make pitches out of the stretch and not let us cross the plate,” Hurdle said.
Morton, who entered the game with a 2-10 record and 6.11 ERA in his career against the Cardinals, matched scoreless frames with Wainwright. After Adams beat the infield shift with a two-out double in the first, Morton did not allow a hit for the next six innings. He completed seven scoreless innings with two walks and five strikeouts, and at 84 pitches was on deck in the eighth until Jordy Mercer reached to load the bases in what was then a scoreless tie.
“The fact is we’re here in St. Louis playing the Cardinals,” Morton said. “Defending National League champions. [Wainwright is] one of the best, if not the best. I got to go out there and keep the team in the game.”
The Pirates put men on base against Wainwright in each of the first seven innings, but they couldn’t drive them in.
The Pirates stranded two in the first after a walk and a single. Another walk and single combo put two more on in the second, but a double play and a grounder stranded a man on third. Another double play erased a single in the third, and two strikeouts and a pop-out in the fourth rendered two singles ineffective.
“We couldn’t touch the plate,” Hurdle said.
Starling Marte tripled with two outs in the fifth, but Matt Carpenter threw out Andrew McCutchen by a step to prevent the run from scoring. Ike Davis’ two-out walk went nowhere in the sixth, and two more were stranded on base in the seventh.
Bill Brink: email@example.com and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published July 8, 2014 12:00 AM