Seven-run first inning leads to Pittsburgh Pirates 10-5 victory over Cardinals


33. 10. 4. Final. 5

After losing the first two games of the series, the Pittsburgh Pirates pounced on Lance Lynn in the first inning and defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 10-5 on Thursday. The win represents Pittsburgh’s first win in St. Louis this season and ends the series on a high note as they sit six games back of first place in the division instead of eight.

The Pirates got to Lynn in the first inning, scoring seven runs (three earned) on a barrage of hits. Neil Walker got the scoring started when he tripled and then scored on a double by Andrew McCutchen. Jung Ho Kang hit a groundball to Matt Carpenter, but he threw it past first base which allowed McCutchen to score and Kang to advance to second. Pedro Alvarez clobbered a ball to deep center for his 17th home run of the season, giving the Pirates a 4-0 lead lead.

Lynn then plunked Francisco Cervelli and Travis Ishikawa moved him to second with a single. Francisco Liriano helped his own cause with a run scoring single before the lineup turned over with still just one out in the inning. Lynn was unable to retire Gregory Polanco, who provided yet another run-scoring single. At this point Mike Matheny marched to the mound to get Lynn, who clearly did not have his best stuff on Thursday in the shortest start of his career. Tyler Lyons relieved Lynn but gave up another run-scoring single, this time to Walker, that was charged to Lynn. After McCutchen grounded out to end the inning, Liriano prepared to take the mound with a 7-0 lead.

The Cardinals got two runs in the first inning off of a single by Yadier Molina. Jason Heyward, who had walked earlier, tried to advance to third but was thrown out in the attempt. Those two runs were all that Liriano would allow until the sixth inning when Kolten Wong grounded out but in the process scored Jhonny Peralta. Liriano went a total of six innings and gave up three runs off of six hits and four walks, but also struck out five.

Joakim Soria relieved Liriano and got knocked around by the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter reached on a bunt single and moved to second when Soria let loose with a wild pitch. Peralta’s single scored Carpenter and the subsequent single by Heyward loaded the bases. Clint Hurdle elected to bring Tony Watson in to get the last two outs of the inning and did so, but also gave up a sacrifice fly to Molina to score Randal Grichuk to bring the Cardinals within two runs at 7-5.

But the Pirates put the game away in the ninth inning when Walker doubled and scored Starling Marte, who was inserted as a pinch runner for Michael Morse. With Polanco on third and Walker on second, the Cardinals intentionally walked McCutchen to get to Kang. Kang did hit into a double play but another run scored. Aramis Ramirez pinch hit for Watson and singled to score McCutchen and give the Pirates a 10-5 lead.

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Even though it wasn’t a save situation, Hurdle brought Mark Melancon into the game and he ended it without giving up any runs and moving the Pirates to 66-46 on the season before heading to New York for a weekend series against the Mets.

What Stood Out

After two tough losses in the first two games of the series, the offense broke out in a big way during the first inning and then added more insurance in the ninth. The first five hitters (outside of Kang) had very good nights and contributed greatly to Thursday’s big win. This is the kind of game that the team needed to have to show that they can beat the Cardinals even in St. Louis.

While Alvarez again looked shaky at times at first, he did collect three hits including another long home run. Walker also put together a very nice game by also contributing three hits. Both hitters added two RBIs each and were instrumental in the big win. Alvarez and Walker are two key components of the offense and could make it very difficult for opposing pitchers if they start to get hot.

What’s Next

On Friday the Pirates will begin a three game series in New York against the Mets. J.A. Happ will make his second start for Pittsburgh and hopefully it will go better than his first when he gave up four runs through only 4 1/3 innings. He will face off against Bartolo Colon, who will be bringing an ERA of 4.76 into the contest, along with 98 strikeouts in 134.1 innings of work.

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