Brad Lincoln and Kyle Lohse started in what became a see saw game. In the end, it wasn’t Albert Pujols who struck the deciding blow. Instead it was someone far less obvious – Pedro Ciriaco.
The Cardinals jumped on Lincoln for a run in the first. Consecutive singles to start the game from Rafael Furcal and John Jay put runners on the corners, with a little help from Alex Presley, who mishandled Jay’s hit for an error. Jay was caught stealing, which helped. Albert Pujols was retired on a sac fly, bringing home the run. Matt Holliday grounded out to end it.
Pittsburgh countered with two runs in the home half of the frame. Presley singled and Neil Walker doubled him to third. Andrew McCutchen’s sac fly tied the score and pushed Walker to third. Derrek Lee drove home Walker with another sac fly.
Lincoln escaped a tight jam in the third that saw St. Louis tie the score. Skip Schumaker, Lohse and Furcal each singled to commence the inning. Schumaker plated on Furcal’s knock to even the score at two. Jay grounded out, putting runners at second and third. Pujols was given the IBB to load the bases and face Holliday. He hit into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Buccos took the lead in the fifth. Presley scored on Walker’s second double of the game. But he was stranded at second as McCutchen, Lee and Ryan Doumit were retired in succession.
As quickly as that lead came, it left. Jay singled. Pujols homered, making it 4-3 St. Louis. After Lance Berkman singled, Lincoln was pulled for Chris Leroux. Berkman was caught stealing and David Freese grounded out to end it.
Pittsburgh got Lincoln off the hook in the eighth. Octavio Dotel was on the bump. He wslked Lee. He was replaced by pinch runner Chase d’Arnaud. Marc Rzepczynski relieved and Ryan Doumit doubled d’Arnaud in to tie it up. Ryan Ludwick and Jason Jaramillo both drew pinch hit walks to load the bases. Fernando Salas relieved Rzepczynski and gave up a two run double to Pedro Ciriaco to put The Buccos up 6-4.
That activity made a winner out of Jason Grilli, who tossed a scoreless eighth. Joel Hanrahan tossed the ninth for the save. He made it interesting. Daniel Descalso led off with a single. Yadier Molina’s groundout moved him to second. Schumaker singled to get runners on the corners. Hanrahan uncorked a wild putch to score Descalso. Nick Punto walked and the Cards had the tying run on second. Furcal’s grounder pushed both runners up a base and brought pinch hitter Corey Patterson to the plate with the winning run on second. But Hanrahan struck him out to end it.
Rzepczynski was the losing pitcher.
Lincoln gave up four runs – three earned – in 5-1/3 innings. He allowed eight hits and a two walks. He struck out one. Lohse went six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk. He whiffed a trio.
Nice three run outburst by the offense in the eighth.
Walker had three hits. Presley, Jones and Doumit each had two.
Is Ciriaco hitting his way into the infield picture for 2012?
Other than Hanrahan’s shaky ninth, nothing.
Lohse entered with a 7-2 career mark against the Pirates. This was his fifth start against them in 2011 in which he has compiled a 2-1 mark.
Lincoln was 1-0 in two career appearances against the Red Birds.
This was Walker’s eleventh game in 2011 with ay least three safeties.
This is the first time since June 17, 18 and 19 that Cutch went hitless in three straight games.
There are seven players in 2011 with at least 200 at bats and a batting average of less than .200. Pedro Alvarez is one of them.
Pujols has ten or more RBI against Pittsburgh in ten of his eleven seasons.
IMO, the Pirates take a strong bullpen far to lightly, Leroux could be a good piece to a good bullpen, they ought to be giving Hughes more of look also. I am still harping on that setup man they don’t appear to have, maby with the makeup Leroux has he could be that guy, even if they try to convert Leroux back to a starter, that will take time, he won’t make the starting 5 next year out of spring training and the bullpen won’t be set if they are working on him becoming a starter, could be just a lot of wasted time when they need good pieces for the pen, the experimenting has to come to an end sometime, 4 years of Huntington spending the last 2 months of every season experimenting has produced 4 years of a collapsed seasons.
I wonder if the Pirates have given any thought or if it is even possible to stretch Leroux out to possibly be a long man or eventually a starter. I think since they changed his arm slot and release point this year he has been very good. AA-AAA-ML combined, 90 IP 2.49 ERA 85 K 23 BB 1.10 WHIP. Solid season and he’s just 27 years old. May be worth a shot.