Pittsburgh Pirates fall 4-3 in game one of series to St. Louis Cardinals


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The Pittsburgh Pirates scraped together three runs against Carlos Martinez but ultimately came up short in a 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals last night. Jeff Locke got knocked around in the fifth inning and the Pirates were not able to recover, dropping the first game of this pivotal series. The Pirates are now 65-45, six games behind the Cardinals heading into tonight’s game.

Jung Ho Kang got the Pirates on the board right away with a double to right field that scored Starling Marte. The Cardinals were able to get that run back in their half of the inning when Jason Heyward hit into a fielder’s choice to bring in Kolten Wong. Aramis Ramirez also committed his ninth error of the season (his fourth since joining the Pirates), but fortunately no runs scored because of it.

The Pirates took the lead in the third inning when Gregory Polanco tripled and then scored on Ramirez’s single. They tacked another run on in the next inning off of a solo home run by Pedro Alvarez, his 16th of the season. With a 3-1 lead and Locke pitching fairly well, things were looking up. But then Locke had one of those innings that happens too often in his starts.

Locke walked the first two batters in Wong and Jhonny Peralta to start the fifth inning before Heyward singled to bring in Wong. Randal Grichuk moved the runners over and then Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly to score Peralta and tie the game. Even after all of this, Locke was left in the game and gave up a run-scoring single to Stephen Piscotty. Mark Reynolds then flew out to Polanco in right to bring the inning to an end, with the Cardinals now leading 4-3.

The Pirates were not able to get anything going against Martinez even after Locke had left the game. Martinez struck out eight and did not issue a walk over eight innings of work. The Pittsburgh bullpen was able to keep the game within reach, receiving scoreless innings from Arquimedes Caminero, Antonio Bastardo and Jared Hughes, but the hitters could not get another run across. Trevor Rosenthal closed the game out for the Cardinals in the ninth, striking out Neil Walker, Alvarez, and Francisco Cervelli.

What Stood Out

Once again the Pirates and Cardinals played a close game but unfortunately the Pirates ended up on the wrong side of it this time. For the first few innings it looked like they had a good chance of winning the game but then Locke gave up three runs in the fifth. This was not a horrible outing for Locke, but the Pirates need better starts than this if they are to catch the Cardinals.

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In other news, it definitely seemed like the strike zone was a little inconsistent on the night, as evidenced by Neil Walker’s strikeout on a called third strike in the ninth inning on a ball that wasn’t close to the zone. Bad and consistent is one thing for an ump; bad and inconsistent is totally another.

What’s Next

The second game of the series will begin today at 8:15 PM when Gerrit Cole and Michael Wacha take the ball for their respective clubs. Both Cole and Wacha have sub-three ERAs (Cole, 2.39, Wacha, 2.92) and impressive records (Cole, 14-5, Wacha, 13-4). Just like every game between these two teams, this game has all the makings of a close, low-scoring contest.

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