Stranding 10 costly as Pirates fall to St. Louis, 5-4
Garrett Jones strikes out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning as the Cardinals held on for a 5-4 win Saturday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
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ST. LOUIS -- This game came down to two innings for the Pirates -- the fifth, which got away from them, and the ninth, when they couldn't make St. Louis pay.
The Pirates wasted a handful of offensive opportunities Saturday while starter Erik Bedard struggled in a 5-4 loss against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
The Pirates stranded 10 runners in the loss, and Andrew McCutchen went 0 for 5 with four of those at-bats coming with runners in scoring position. He did drive in a run in the ninth on a fielder's choice.
"We work, we get guys on base, we put ourselves in a position to pick up the pitchers," Rod Barajas said. "They picked us up early in the season, and we definitely want to do that for them. It's frustrating."
Pirates left fielder Starling Marte left the game in the fifth after tweaking his right oblique while running the bases. Infielder Jordy Mercer had X-rays taken after he was hit on his right wrist by a pitch in the ninth. The Pirates already were short on the bench because second baseman Neil Walker sustained a dislocated pinky Wednesday.
The Pirates (66-54) had a chance to climb back in the game in the ninth, loading the bases with no outs. McCutchen grounded into a fielder's choice to score one run before Garrett Jones struck out and Josh Harrison flied out to end the game.
Jones had a 3-0 count before swinging at three consecutive strikes with the tying run at third base. Manager Clint Hurdle said Jones might have chased the 3-0 pitch out of the zone, but he appreciated the aggressive approach from Jones, who was trying to put the ball in the air.
"He's your cleanup hitter and arguably as hot as anyone we've got on the team," Hurdle said. "Not just in the air, maybe on the other side of the fence or in the gap."
The Pirates also had the tying run on base with no outs in the eighth before Mitchell Boggs retired three consecutive batters.
St. Louis (65-55) broke a 3-3 tie when Yadier Molina cranked a two-out, two-run double in the fifth.
Bedard was a borderline pitch away from surviving an up-and-down game. But he didn't get the call. Then, Molina got the better of him.
On a 2-2 count to the previous batter, David Freese, Bedard threw a curveball that home-plate umpire Jim Reynolds determined was a shade high and outside. Bedard walked Freese, and Molina, playing for the first time in four games because of tightness in his back, sent Bedard's next pitch toward the right-field corner.
Hurdle said he did not want to pull Bedard because reliever Jared Hughes, who was warming in the bullpen, had not pitched in more than a week. And he wanted his veteran starter to make a big pitch in a crucial moment.
"What I'm hoping, in the large picture, is for our rotation to stabilize itself," Hurdle said. "If you're contemplating having to take your starter out three, four times in the past couple of weeks before the fifth inning, that's not the direction you want to head."
Bedard lasted 42/3 innings and surrendered five earned runs on nine hits. His 13th loss tied him with San Francisco Giants starter Tim Lincecum for the most in the majors this season.
He allowed at least one baserunner in each of the five innings he was on the mound, including multiple baserunners in three. The nine hits were the most Bedard has allowed all season.
"They hit some really good pitches, and some were out over [the plate]," Bedard said. "They're a good team. They swung the bat early and got the bat on the ball."
Molina finished 3 for 4 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn allowed three earned runs and four hits in 41/3 innings. Reliever Barret Browning earned the win after pitching one inning without allowing an earned run.
Before the injury, Mercer drove in two runs to double his career RBI total to four.
Game: Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals, 2:15 p.m., Busch Stadium, St. Louis.
TV, Radio: Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).
Probable pitchers: RHP Jeff Karstens (4-3, 3.91 ERA) vs. LHP Jaime Garcia (3-4, 4.48).
Key matchup: Karstens vs. Jon Jay, who is 6 for 16 with two doubles against Karstens.
Hidden stat: According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Pirates Friday became the first team in 24 years to score at least two runs in a win with all its runs coming by passed ball or wild pitch.
First Published August 19, 2012 12:39 am