PIRATES 5 – CARDINALS 4
The Pittsburgh Pirates (65-42) are on a roll as the Pirates rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals (62-44) 5-4 on Wednesday night for their fourth straight win over the Cards. Pittsburgh leads the Cardinals by 2.5 games for first place in the NL Central and look to complete a five game sweep Thursday night.
With the game tied at 4-4, Russell Martin (.251 – 9 HR – 38 RBI) drove home Neil Walker for the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. Walker singled off Trevor Rosenthal to lead off the eighth and with one out Pedro Alvarez flied out to left advancing Walker to second base.
With two outs, Martin hit a sharp grounder to left field driving in Walker for the go-ahead run. Tony Watson (3-1) received the win with two scoreless innings in relief of Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.36 ERA) who struggled and Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his fifth save of the season and lowered his ERA to 0.88.
The bullpen combined for five scoreless innings as Vin Mazzaro (2.92 ERA) also added two scoreless innings. The Cardinals went 4-14 with RISP and left 11 runners on base.
Locke who is showing some small signs of regressing, allowed 10 hits and 4 runs in four innings. Locke, though, struck out 6 as he continues to post high strikeout numbers over his past three starts with 21 strikeouts during that span. For Locke tonight, the bullpen and offense picked him up.
Neil Walker provided the type of play with his bat that the Pirates need more of the next couple months. Walker went 2-4 with a home run, RBI and scored the game winning run. Walker homered in the 3rd, a solo shot off Adam Wainwright.
While the Pirates like many teams were shutout at deadline, the biggest additions for the Pirates could be Walker and Garrett Jones coming alive at the plate and being consistent hitters down the stretch. Jones was 2-3 in the win but has still been plagued by inconsistency coming out of the All-Star break.
Huntington spoke prior to the game about actively trying to find a bat as the Pirates made a play for David DeJesus, Alex Rios and Marlon Byrd.
“I made offers that made me incredibly uncomfortable,” Huntington said. “But I did so with the idea of wanting to help this club. “I was willing to do something stupid — but not insane.”
A trade for an impact bat could come in August but a target like David DeJesus is unlikely to get to the Pirates through waivers, though a player with a hefty contract like Alex Rios is likely to clear waivers.
“We’ll certainly continue to be active,” Huntington said.