Pirates shut out Cardinals, 5-0
The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez reaches out to touch home as he slides safely past Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz.
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It might have taken more than a month, but Wandy Rodriguez's first win as a Pirate starter could not have come on a more important night.
Rodriguez allowed three hits over six scoreless innings, and Pedro Alvarez boosted the Pirates at the plate for the second consecutive night as they beat the Cardinals, 5-0, tonight at PNC Park.
With the victory, the Pirates (70-60) now trail the Cardinals (71-59) by one game in the race for the final National League wild card playoff spot.
The win sealed the Pirates' first series victory since they took two of three games from the Cardinals in St. Louis, their only two series wins of the month. It also gave the Pirates an 8-7 season record against the Cardinals, which would give the Pirates home field advantage in a play-in game if the two tie for that final wild card spot.
After Rodriguez left the game, Tony Watson, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan completed the second consecutive shutout victory, a feat the Pirates had not accomplished since July 18 and 19 of last year against the Cincinnati Reds.
Ironically, Rodriguez, whom the Pirates acquired in a trade with the Houston Astros on July 24, earned his first Pirate win as a starter against the same team he beat to earn his first win as a Pirate. He was credited with the victory after pitching two scoreless innings of relief in the Pirates' 19-inning, 6-3 victory at St. Louis on Aug. 19.
He had good command tonight, throwing 60 of his 96 pitches for strikes. He had three walks -- all to Jon Jay -- and struck out three batters to pick up his ninth victory of the season.
His counterpart, Joe Kelly, allowed five earned runs on eight hits in five innings.
Alvarez finished the night 2 for 4 to boost his season average against the Cardinals to .411. He extended an early Pirate lead with his third home run in two games -- a three-run, third-inning blast that put the Pirates up, 4-0.
Alvarez worked Kelly to a 3-1 count before pouncing on an 82-mph curveball the rookie left hanging over the plate, a line drive home run that landed in the last row of the right-field seats.
It was Alvarez's team-leading 26th home run of the season, and his seventh against the Cardinals this season.
He also doubled in the fifth inning and later scored when Josh Harrison singled to centerfield as the Pirates climbed ahead, 5-0.
While his production the past two games has garnered a lot of attention, Alvarez has pieced together a solid month at the plate. He is hitting .318 with five home runs, 12 RBIs and 10 runs in August.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Travis Snider hit a one-out double down the left field line and scored when Garrett Jones hit a two-out double off the base of the Clemente Wall. It was the second consecutive game in which the Pirates took a lead after the first inning.
First Published August 29, 2012 9:58 pm