photo: Yadier Molina via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Sunday, September 20, 2020 – St. Louis 2 at Pittsburgh 1
An old-fashioned pitching duel broke out in the series finale at PNC Park on Sunday and when the dust cleared, the St. Louis Cardinals had edged the home Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1. After dropping the first game of the five-game set, St. Louis (26-24) won the next four, the team’s longest winning streak in 2020. The victory kept the second-place Cardinals a game up on both Cincinnati and Milwaukee who won their afternoon contests and 3 1/2 behind Chicago which lost Sunday evening.
Both starters, St. Louis’ Jack Flaherty and Pittsburgh’s Joe Musgrove, were near the top of their game, resulting in a scoreless contest through 3 ½ frames. But the Bucs (15-38) eked out their sole tally in the home half of the fourth on a lead-off double, sacrifice bunt advancing the runner to third and sac fly to center.
That two-bagger was one of only two hits and two walks yielded by Flaherty during his six-inning stint. Bouncing back from his worst 2020 start last time out versus Milwaukee in which he yielded nine runs in three plus frames, the 24-year-old fanned 11 Pirates, including his final seven recorded outs.
Despite this effort, Flaherty departed after six with his team down 1-0, because his teammates could get nothing going against Musgrove, who matched Flaherty’s 11 strikeouts over six frames. Having thrown 94 pitches during that span, Musgrove’s day was over and the bullpen took over.
It was déjà vu all over again as the Cardinals mimicked their exploits of Saturday’s contest by pouncing on Pittsburgh’s relief corps in the seventh inning. Matt Carpenter led off with a single to left, followed immediately by Yadier Molina’s fourth home run of the season to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead.
That was all the run support needed by the visitors’ relievers, who did not allow a base runner over the final three innings. Tyler Webb, John Gant and Andrew Miller each tossed a frame, with Webb and Miller striking out one each and Miller earning his third save. It was Gant’s first action since September 13th when he left that game with a groin injury.
The Cardinals’ offense consisted of six hits, with two by Paul Goldschmidt in four at bats. Tommy Edman extended his consecutive hitting streak to eight games and his consecutive on-base streak to 11 contests with a seventh-inning single, his only hit in five at bats. Kolten Wong (two steals) and Harrison Bader (one stolen base) each walked.
Monday’s game: at Kansas City (21-32), 7:05 p.m. CDT, Adam Wainwright (5-1, 2.87) vs. Carlos Hernandez (0-0, 3.86). FOX Sports Midwest // KMOX
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