photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
The St. Louis Cardinals continued with the five-game series at the Pittsburgh Pirates with a twin bill on Friday night. St. Louis needed wins after the tough loss to the last place Pirates on Thursday. The need was met with a sweep.
Game 1 was Carlos Martinez’ start, his third since being activated from the injured list. Martinez has struggled since his return, and today’s outing was no different, as the right hander lasted only 3 2/3 innings. He was not helped at all by his defense, which committed four errors in the game. Martinez yielded five runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits. Four walks with only one strikeout contributed to his early exit. He was relieved by Genesis Cabrera, who tossed a scoreless inning.
Alex Reyes followed, entering with two outs in the fifth and retiring the only batter he faced. He returned to pitch a scoreless sixth and retired the first hitter in the seventh, Gregory Polanco. Ryan Helsley finished the game, though it was no easy matter to do so. Helsley got the second out of the inning but walked the next batter. Again, the defense marred the outing with a throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong, who had committed a fielding miscue earlier in the game. Helsley then walked the hitter to load the bases. The right hander induced a fly ball out to left field to save the win for the Cardinals and Reyes.
The offense had a better showing than the previous night, scoring six runs on eight hits. Kolten Wong led off the game with a solo home run to right field. The lead quickly vanished, however, as the Pirates scored two in the bottom of the inning.
The Cardinals responded with two runs in the top of the second. Yadier Molina singled, and Tyler O’Neill brought him in with blast to right center field. St. Louis led 3-2. The offense added on in the third with two additional runs on a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double and a sac fly by DeJong.
Wong drove in his second run in the fourth inning on a groundout. The Cardinals led 6-2. However, the Pirates were not done as they put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth to decrease St. Louis’ lead to 6-5. The Cardinals bullpen kept the Pirates off the board for the remainder of the game.
Goldschmidt and Molina led the way with two hits each. Wong and O’Neill contributed with the long ball. Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader each singled.
The defense committed four errors, two from DeJong, a generally solid defensive shortstop. Molina was called for another catcher interference, his second of the week, and Edman made a fielding error.
In the second game of the twin bill, the Cardinals earned the sweep with a decisive 7-2 win over the last place Pirates. In this make-up game from August 12, St. Louis was designated as the home team despite the game being played on Pittsburgh soil.
29th man Daniel Ponce de Leon made the start on three days rest and kept the Pirates off the board until the fifth inning. An unfortunate pitch led to a two-run blast that marred the nine strikeout outing for Ponce de Leon. The right-hander walked two and allowed only three hits. His day was finished after the fifth.
Andrew Miller relieved in the sixth and threw a scoreless frame. Seth Elledge finished with a scoreless seventh with one hit allowed.
Both teams were held scoreless until the fourth when the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on Paul DeJong’s RBI single that was preceded by back to back singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman. Goldschmidt scored on the sac fly.
The Pirates responded by taking the lead on the two-run home run in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals retook the lead with a six-run outburst. Edman walked and Goldschmidt reached on catcher interference. Brad Miller walked to load the bases before DeJong’s sac fly to right plated Edman. Tyler O’Neil reached on a fielder’s choice and Goldschmidt scored on a throwing error by the Pirates third baseman.
Harrison Bader pinch ran for Miller and a ground ball by Matt Carpenter led to a throwing error by the Pirate first baseman that allowed Bader to score. With Carpenter and O’Neill on base, Dylan Carlson, newly recalled from Springfield, hit a high middle fastball out of the park for a three-run home run, his second long ball of the season. The home run was Carlson’s second hit in the game. The Cardinals led 7-2, a lead they would not relinquish.
The sweep of the team’s 10th doubleheader of the season put the Cardinals back to the .500 mark with a record of 24-24, and in a tie for second place with the 26-26 Reds. Both teams are 5.5 games back of the Cubs.
Saturday’s game: vs. Pirates at 6:05 p.m. Kwang-Hyun Kim (2-0, 0.63) vs. Mitch Keller (1-1, 5.06), FOX Sports Midwest/FOX Sports 1/KMOX
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