After rallying to win a marathon contest against the NL Central leaders, the St. Louis Cardinals might have found the boost they need to make a run and catch the slumping Pittsburgh Pirates .
The Cardinals look for a third straight victory while trying to hand the Pirates a season-high fifth consecutive defeat Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis (68-50) dropped four of five at Pittsburgh from July 29-Aug. 1 to fall out of first place. It then lost six of 10 before moving within two games of the Pirates (70-48) after overcoming an early 3-0 deficit to beat Pittsburgh 4-3 in 14 innings Tuesday."We had a lot of guys step up," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "That was a big, big win. It was one of those ones you just felt you had to win somehow."
The Pirates have totaled 10 runs during a four-game skid that followed a five-game stretch in which they averaged 4.6. They've also dropped five straight and seven of eight on the road.
St. Louis' Jon Jay , who scored the winning run on Adron Chambers ' single Tuesday, had four hits and Matt Carpenter added three. Daniel Descalso scored the tying run in the ninth after he reached second base on a dropped fly ball by Pittsburgh left fielder Starling Marte ."We got nicked for a run. We had to play five more after that," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We threw everything out there, they threw everything out there."We let one probably get away from us."
Jay is 10 for 22 in his last five games versus Pittsburgh, while Carpenter is 8 for 15 with four doubles in the last three overall.
"To stay out there for 100 pitches (Wednesday) night, my arm would probably feel worse than it does," Miller told the Cardinals' official website the day after the injury. "That's something to be happy about. I got lucky there."
The Cardinals have been outscored 14-0 while Miller's gone 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA against the Pirates this season. The right-hander gave up two of his three runs on solo homers while striking out seven in 5 2-3 innings of a 9-0 home loss to Pittsburgh on April 28.
He'll be opposed by Francisco Liriano (12-5, 2.83), who improved to 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Cardinals when he gave up a run, four hits and fanned eight in seven innings of a 9-2 victory July 29.
The left-hander allowed one run and struck out 22 over 21 2-3 innings during a three-start winning streak that ended Friday when he was roughed up for 10 runs and 12 hits in 2 1-3 frames of a 10-1 loss at Colorado.
"This is the big leagues, and every once in a while you have those kind of nights, unfortunately," Hurdle told the Pirates official website. "Nobody likes it; he doesn't like it. You don't psychoanalyze it, you don't overcook it."
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer Tuesday, and is 16 for 32 with nine RBIs in the last 10 games.
Teammate Pedro Alvarez , however, is batting .182 in his last 25 games and is 3 for 20 with six strikeouts in the last five versus St. Louis.
|August 11, 2013||Starling Marte||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hand|
|July 28, 2013||Travis Snider||15-Day DL||Left big toe discomfort|
|July 28, 2013||Michael McKenry||15-Day DL||Left knee surgery - out for season|
|July 23, 2013||Jason Grilli||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|August 11, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Right foot contusion|
|August 07, 2013||Shelby Miller||Day-to-Day||Right elbow contusion|
|July 31, 2013||Shane Robinson||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|July 31, 2013||Yadier Molina||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|July 30, 2013||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Strained right knee|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- For the second time since the All-Star break, Francisco Liriano had dazzling stuff against St. Louis. The lefty shook off the worst outing of his career and saved the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen, too.
"It was important because every game counts, especially after last night," Liriano said after throwing a four-hitter in a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday night. "It was a tough game last night and we had to put that one behind us and come ready to play."
Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones homered for the Pirates, who snapped a season-worst four-game losing streak and took a three-game lead in the NL Central.
The Pirates had a five-run cushion after four innings against rookie Shelby Miller , who didn't miss a turn five days after getting drilled on the elbow and lasting just two pitches against the Dodgers. They're 8-4 against the Cardinals heading into the series finale matching starters A.J. Burnett and Lance Lynn .
"You give up five runs, you just get outpitched," Miller said. "I mean, it's simple. I didn't do very good."
Pittsburgh totaled just 10 runs during the losing streak and won in 2 hours, 30 minutes one night after losing 4-3 in 14 innings in a game that lasted 4:55. Pirates relievers worked eight innings Wednesday.
Starling Marte was the goat in that loss after dropping a routine fly ball that would have been the second out in the ninth. He contributed a two-run double.
"Everybody tried to help me," Marte said. "What happened last night, I was feeling bad and somebody told me to keep my head up and play."
Liriano (13-5) struck out six and needed just 94 pitches and is 3-0 in his career against St. Louis. His last time out, the lefty was punished for 10 runs in 2 1-3 innings at Colorado.
Against the Rockies, Liriano said he had no control. He carved up the Cardinals.
"That was the mulligan," manager Clint Hurdle said. "What we've seen all year, he's just given us chances to win. He's pitched deep into games, he's mixed pitches, he's really been in command when runners get on base."
Matt Carpenter doubled and eventually scored on a groundout by Carlos Beltran in the ninth to snap Liriano's shutout bid. He settled for his second complete game of the year and third of his career.
"You couldn't really tell what was coming out of his hand," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "You could tell he had late life by the way the guys were reacting."
Alvarez hit his 29th homer an estimated 440 feet to straightaway center leading off the second against Miller (11-8), and with one out Jones lined his 11th over the right field wall estimated at 392 feet. Marte's hit capped a three-run fourth, with two of the runs unearned due to a fielding error by third baseman David Freese .
Miller gave up two homers for the fourth time and has lost all of those starts, twice against Pittsburgh. In six innings, he gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits.
Liriano retired the side in order six times, twice with the help of double plays. A third double play helped him escape without damage in the second when the Cardinals got two of their hits.
In the three starts prior to his clunker at Colorado, Liriano allowed one earned run over 21 2-3 innings in winning three straight starts.
The Cardinals are 3-6 with one game to go on a 10-game homestand that began with series losses to the Cubs and Dodgers.
Michael Wacha , one of St. Louis' top pitching prospects, made his first career relief appearance and struck out four in two scoreless innings.
Notes: The Pirates have outscored the Cardinals 14-2 in Liriano's two starts this year. ... Tabata missed his second straight start but entered as a defensive replacement in right field in the eighth. He was scratched with flu-like symptoms Tuesday. ... The Cardinals left a season-high 17 runners on base Tuesday night. ... Matt Holliday has 17 hits during an 11-game hitting streak but also grounded into his major league-leading 27th double play. He also lined into a twin killing in the fourth. ... Nine of the homers off Miller have come with the bases empty. ... Alvarez has homered two of the last three games. He has 11 homers against the Cardinals in 46 career games.