Pittsburgh Pirates defeat Cardinals 6-5 in one of best games of the year


5. 33. 6. 4. Final

The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cardinals 6-5 in dramatic fashion on Saturday night in what may have been the game of the year so far in major league baseball. The Pirates came from behind to tie the game three times and Andrew McCutchen hit his fifth career walk-off home run in the 14th inning to pull the team within 3.5 games of St. Louis.

A.J. Burnett started for the Pirates and gave the team a quality start, giving up three runs over 6.1 innings. His ERA however is now over 2.00 at 2.11 heading into the all-star break. He also threw 112 pitches in those six-plus innings, throwing strikes on only 65 of them. He did manage to hit his fourth career home run in the contest to left field.

Opposite Burnett on the mound was John Lackey, who only gave up one run across 6.2 innings. Of course, that one run was off the bat of Burnett, to the disbelief of Lackey. Lackey threw 106 pitches, 73 of which were strikes, and was generally better on the day . However, the Pirates were able to attack the Cardinal bullpen to spark their rally. The two teams used a combined 13 relief pitchers in the 14-inning contest.

The Cardinals struck first and built up a 3-0 lead by the bottom of the fifth inning. Mark Reynolds hit a 434-foot solo shot in the second for the first run of the game. Yadier Molina then hit a sacrifice fly in the the third inning to double that lead. And an error by Pedro Alvarez at first base allowed Jason Heyward to score to add one more run to that lead.

But the Pirates were relentless on Saturday night. Burnett launched a home run to left field with two outs on an 0-2 count, much to the pleasure of the crowd. But they wouldn’t stop there. The Pirates scored two runs in the eighth inning to tie the game on RBIs from Jung Ho Kang and Pedro Alvarez off of Cardinal reliever Kevin Siegrist, who has been terrific this year. The game remained tied after nine and went to extra innings, where Reynolds hit his second home run of the game to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead. The Pirates tied the game yet again on a Chris Stewart single in the bottom of the inning. Jhonny Peralta gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead in the 14th inning, but the magic happened in the bottom half of the 14th when Andrew McCutchen a two-run walk-off home run to center field in one of the best moments of the year for this Pirates team.

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What Stood Out

What didn’t stand out in this game? It had everything a fan could ask for. In the second inning. Francisco Cervelli and Clint Hurdle were ejected in the for arguing that Mark Reynolds swung and missed at a pitch, but the umpire ruled that Reynolds foul tipped the ball. The replay showed that he indeed swung and missed on the pitch, but you can’t challenge balls and strikes under the current rules. On the next pitch Reynolds hit a home run, after which Cervelli was furious with the umpire and ended up getting thrown out of the game, as did Hurdle. The Pirates ended up playing without their starting catcher for the remainder of the game, but backup Chris Stewart did have a game-tying RBI single in the tenth inning.

The Pirates also came from behind to tie the game three times, and they currently lead all of baseball in come from behind victories. Andrew McCutchen hit his fifth career walk-off home run that sent PNC Park into a frenzy to say the least, and he’s now second all time among Pirates’ players in walk-off home runs. That home run extended MCCutchen’s hitting streak to a career-best 18 games. Sean Rodriguez also had some magic of his own when he made an incredible catch in left field late in the game.

What’s Next

The Pittsburgh Pirates (52-35) will take on the St. Louis Cardinals (56-32) on Sunday Night Baseball at 8:00 PM in the final MLB game before the all-star break. Francisco Liriano (5-6, 2.99 ERA) looks to keep his ERA under three as he faces off against Tim Cooney (0-0, 3.95 ERA), who is making just his fourth major league start. The Pirates hope to cut the Cardinals’ division lead to just 2.5 games heading into the break.

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