Jack Wilson’s three run double with two outs in the ninth inning capped off a four run inning as the Pirates rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 Monday evening.
The Pirates got a strong pitching performance from starter Paul Maholm who pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing two runs and striking out one.
Tied at 2-2 in the eighth inning, Ryan Ludwick hit a leadoff homer in the eighth inning off Tyler Yates, and David Freese added a sacrifice fly off John Grabow to give the Cardinals a 4-2 lead going into the top of the ninth.
The Cardinals sent rookie closer Jason Motte to the mound in the ninth inning and new year, same problem for the Cardinals who led the majors with 31 blown saves in 2008.
2B Freddy Sanchez started the Pirates rally in the¬†ninth with a leadoff double off Motte, while Adam Laroche (single) and Erik Hinske (double) added key hits during the Pirates four run ninth inning.
The Pirates had 11 hits on the day and were led by LF Nyjer Morgan who went 3-5 (2RBI, 1 SB, 1 run)
John Grabow (1-0) got the win and Matt Capps closed out the game in the bottom of the ninth to record his first save of the season.
The Pirates have now won three straight openers while the Cardinals have now lost three straight openers.
For the Pirates to have any success this season, they have to get consistent production from the top of their lineup. They had mixed results tonight. Leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan (3-5) and #2 hitter Freddy Sanchez went (2-5) but #3 hitter Nate McLouth and cleanup hitter Ryan Doumit went a combined 0-8.
Despite Doumit and McLouth having rough days at the plate, the Pirates got clutch hits from the bottom of their lineup. Erik Hinske had a pinch hit double and Jack Wilson’s three run double with two outs, two strikes, capped off the Pirates four run ninth inning.
Morgan lf 3-for-5, 2 RBI, 1 SO, 1 SB (1)
Sanchez 2b 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 2B (1), 1 SO
McLouth cf 0-for-3, 2 BB, 2 SO
Doumit c 0-for-5, 1 SO
Ad LaRoche 1b 2-for-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 SO
An LaRoche 3b 0-for-3, 1 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 2 E (2)
Hinske ph 1-for-1, 1 R, 1 2B (1)
Capps p 0-for-0
Moss rf 0-for-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HBP
Wilson ss 1-for-5, 3 RBI, 1 2B (1), 2 SO
Maholm p 1-for-1, 2 BB
Vazquez 3b 1-for-2
Starting Pitching (B+)
Paul Maholm: 6 2/3 IP 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 WP, 1 HBP
Paul Maholm pitched 6 2/3 innings allowed two runs, one earned, and seven hits while walking one and striking out one. Maholm also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
Maholm only had one strikeout but he got a lot of groundball outs and most importantly, Maholm only had one walk.
Relief Pitching (C)
Yates 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR
Grabow (W 1-0) 2/3 IP, 1 H
Capps (S 1) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 SO
Matt Capps had an average spring after missing the second half of last season with bursitis in his throwing shoulder but it was good for him to get his first save in his first save opportunity against the Cardinals.
John Grabow who pitched well at the WBC allowed 1 hit in 2/3 IP. Grabow and Capps are the only two pitchers in the bullpen that the Pirates can count on as the bullpen has some serious question marks.
Ian Snell will start for the Pirates on Tuesday while the Cards will counter with Kyle Lohse