Andrew McCutchen hit career home run no. 299, Johan Oviedo pitched 5 strong innings, three Cardinals were ejected, and the Pittsburgh Pirates picked up a 6-3 victory
When teams have struggled as much as the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals have there are not many important series to be played in late August. Well, the current three-game set at PNC Park is about as important a series two teams in that position can have against each other. That is because this series is to stay out of last place in the NL Central.
Entering the series the Pirates sat in fourth place in the division, half a game ahead of the Cardinals. Well, thus far, the Pirates have taken care of the Red Birds. After blasting St. Louis 11-1 in game one on Monday night they defeated the Cardinals 6-3 on Tuesday night, winning the series and improving to 7-2 against St. Louis this season. Also with the win, the Pirates are now 57-69 overall on the season and now have a 2.5 game cushion on the Cardinals in the standings.
After a perfect start, Pirates knock around Adam Wainwright
Facing long-time foe Adam Wainwright the Pirates struggled early. Making his final career start at PNC Park the veteran righty was perfect through the first 3 innings. This ended in the 4th inning when Ji Hwan Bae drew a lead off walk and came around to score on a Connor Joe base hit.
Then in the 4th inning, the floodgates opened.
A bloop single by Vinny Capra, an infield hit by Alfonso Rivas, and a bunt single by Alika Williams loaded the bases for the Pirates with just one out. After a Bae ground out plated a run Bryan Reynolds doubled home a pair. Andrew McCutchen then launched a 2-run home run off of Wainwright, giving Cutch 299 for his career.
With the Pirates now ahead 6-1 Joe hit a double to end Wainwright's night.
For years Wainwright has terrorized the Pirates. With him set to retire at the end of the season, it certainly felt good to see the Pirates knock Wainwright around in his final start at PNC Park.
Johan Oviedo goes 5 strong
After turning in three straight strong starts Johan Oviedo had struggled in his previous two starts. Tuesday night, his up-and-down season continued when he turned in a strong bounce back start against his former team.
Oviedo pitched 5 strong innings against the Cardinals. The lone run that Oviedo was a solo home run off the bat of Richie Palacios, the 1st career home run for the younger brother of Pirate outfielder Joshua Palacios. Oviedo allowed four hits, walked a batter, and struck out five.
It has been an up-and-down season for Oviedo. However, his first full MLB season and first full season as a starting pitcher since 2020 has had more good than bad. If he can take another step forward next season, there is plenty of optimism about Oviedo's future with the Pirates.
Recapping the bullpen
Dauri Moreta took over for Oviedo and struggled. Moreta allowed a run in the 6th inning, and was lucky it was not worse with two fly balls being caught at the base of the Clemente Wall by Joe, then he allowed another run in the 7th.
With a runner on first and two outs in the 7th, Moreta was lifted for Colin Holderman. After allowing a hit and issuing a walk to load the bases, with the assistance of home plate umpire Brennan Miller, Holderman struck out Willson Contreras to end the inning. This led to an explosion from Contreras which included spiking his bat down and throwing his helmet at the umpire on his way to being ejected.
Holderman pitched a 1-2-3 inning that ended with Jordan Walker striking out looking. Walker then joined Contreras and Oli Marmol in having been ejected from the game. David Bednar then slammed the door shut with a scoreless 9th inning to pick up his 27th save of the season.
The Pirates will look to sweep the Cardinals when the two teams play the finale of this series on Wednesday afternoon. Zack Thompson (3.90 ERA, 3.27 FIP) is set to start for the Cardinals. As of this writing the Pirates had yet to officially announce a starter, but all signs point toward in being a returning Luis Ortiz (4.86 ERA, 6.17 FIP). First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 12:35 PM ET.