photo: Dakota Hudson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
The St. Louis Cardinals faced the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night in the opener of a five-game series. Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota only went two innings and the offense was stymied on just two hits on the way to a disappointing 5-1 loss.
The troubles began when Hudson left the game after the second inning due to injury. It was originally called “right elbow tightness,” but after the game, manager Mike Shildt labeled it a “mild forearm strain”. X-rays showed nothing structural, but Hudson will have imaging on Friday and more will be known then.
Hudson’s early exit forced Friday’s tentative doubleheader Game 2 starter Austin Gomber into action starting in the third inning. The lefty pitched one scoreless frame, but in the fourth, he walked the first two batters. After two consecutive Pirates struck out, Gregory Polanco hit a three-run home run to right center field. Gomber yielded a fourth run on a single and a double before being pulled with two out, still in the fourth.
Tyler Webb retired the final hitter in the fourth, and took the fifth, but he was replaced by Seth Elledge with one out in the sixth. Elledge finished the frame. Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez tossed the scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively. Gomber was tagged with the loss.
The meager Cardinals offense scored one run on two hits, both singles, as they were stymied by Pirates pitcher Steven Brault. The left-hander went all the way to pick up his first win in 14 starts since September 1, 2019. Tommy Edman’s single in the third inning drove in the only Cardinals run. Kolten Wong had the other hit. Yadier Molina and Rangel Ravelo each drew a free pass.
Ravelo had an outfield assist at home plate.
The loss put the Cardinals at 22-24 and dropped them into third place in the NL Central, a half-game back of the second-place Reds, and six games back of the first-place Cubs. St. Louis now trails further in their season series against baseball’s worst team, with the Bucs having won four of six and with four more contests just ahead.
In transaction news prior to the game, starting pitcher Johan Oviedo was optioned out and Wednesday’s 29th man, outfielder Justin Williams, remains on the active 28-man roster. More changes are coming on Friday.
Friday’s games: vs. Pirates at 3:05 p.m., Carlos Martinez (0-2, 10.32) vs. Trevor Williams (1-7, 6.35) (Game 1); vs. Pirates 45 minutes following Game 1, Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-3, 6.23) vs. Chad Kuhl (1-2, 5.50) (Game 2), FOX Sports Midwest/KMOX
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