CARDINALS 4 – PIRATES 3
Jeff Locke has been a five inning pitcher all season and the lefty went into the fifth inning holding a 3-1 lead and at 62 pitches.
Locke’s struggles this season when the opposition see’s him a third time around in the batting order should have been on Clint Hurdle’s mind, but it wasn’t.
As Locke walked Kolten Wong and Jhonny Peralta to lead off the inning, the alarm bell should have went off, yet it didn’t, as there was no activity in the bullpen and moments later the game would get away in the fifth with the Cardinals scoring three unanswered runs in the inning.
After walking Wong and Peralta, Locke fell behind 2-0 to Jason Heyward and Heyward would single to right, scoring Wong and the flood gates opened in the inning.
Randal Grichuk would advance Peralta to third and Heyward to second on a ground out to third, and Yadier Molina would tie the game at 3-3 with a one-out sacrifice fly to center.
With two outs and Heyward at third, Locke remained in the game and got ahead of Stephen Piscotty 1-2, but Piscotty would drive home Heyward with a single to center to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.
Locke finished the inning and on the night allowed 7 hits and 4 runs in five innings, striking out 3 and walking 3. Locke threw just 12 first pitch strikes of the 26 batters he faced, and 13 of the 26 batters reached base against Locke.
Locke’s best work of the night was getting out of a base-loaded jam in the third inning when he blew a 92 mph fastball for a strikeout past Grichuk and got Molina to ground out to second to end the inning.
Locke has showed this season that he often starts to hit a wall in the fifth or sixth inning and Hurdle was mis-guided not to have the bullpen ready in the fifth at the first sign of trouble which came immediately at the start of the inning in walking Wong, Peralta.
PIRATES GOT TO MARTINEZ EARLY
Cardinals Ace Carlos Martinez went eight innings for his 12th win of the season but the Pirates hit Martinez extremely well early in the game.
A fastball hitting team, Jung Ho Kang got the Pirates on the board in the first inning with an opposite field RBI double to right, jumping on a 97 mph fastball from Martinez.
In the fourth inning, Pedro Alvarez pushed the Pirates lead to 3-1, taking a Martinez 96 mph fastball up in the zone deep for his 16th homer of the season.
Martinez, though, locked down on the Pirates after the Cardinals went up 4-3 in the fifth, retiring nine of the final 11 batters he faced.
PLAYER NOTES (Starting Nine)
Gregory Polanco (.253 – 6 HR – 33 RBI), 3-4 with a triple and run scored.
Starling Marte (.287 – 13 HR – 57 RBI), 2-4 with a double and run scored
Andrew McCutchen (.297 – 17 HR – 74 RBI), 0-4, 2 strike outs
Aramis Ramirez (.243 – 11 HR – 48 RBI), 1-3 with an RBI single in third inning. Throwing Error (9)
Jung Ho Kang (.293 – 9 HR – 40 RBI), 1-4 with RBI double in first inning. 2 strikeouts
Neil Walker (.271 – 11 HR – 44 RBI), 0-4, 2 strikeouts
Pedro Alvarez (.238 – 16 HR – 54 RBI), 2-4 with home run, double, 2 strike outs.
Francisco Cervelli (.303 – 6 HR – 36 RBI), 0-4, 2 strike outs
Jeff Locke (6-7, 4.43 ERA), 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 K, 3 BB
The Cardinals (72-40) moved 6 games ahead of the Pirates (65-45) for first place in NL Central…..The Chicago Cubs (63-48) 9-1 in their last 10 games, extended their winning streak to five games with a 6-3 win over the Brewers. The Pirates are 2.5 games ahead of the Cubs for the top wildcard spot…..
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Pirates struck out 11 times, walked 0 times.