The Pirates defeated St. Louis tonight by the score of 5-2, cutting the Cardinals’ division lead back to 4.5 games.
Gerrit Cole pitched seven innings giving up six hits, two walks and struck out three batters. The only damage the Cardinals inflicted onto Cole was a two-run homer hit by Matt Carpenter in the third inning. After Carpenter’s home run, Cole shut the Cardinals down for the next four innings, giving the Pirates a chance to make their comeback.
Cole’s three strikeouts were a season-low, but he was still able to get the job done and induce soft contact that included 12 ground ball outs.
“I didn’t think I had my best stuff,” Cole said after the game. “Part of the reason for not a lot of strikeouts is because [the Cardinals are as] stubborn as ever at the plate. They don’t expand the zone – they are very smart hitters.”
The story of the game, though, was the Pirates ability to finally take advantage of their offensive opportunities, something that they’ve struggled to do this season against the Cardinals.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn did not have his usual command tonight and the Pirates made him pay for it, scoring five runs and knocking him out of the game after only four innings of work.
“We really tried to put it in a very small area once we felt he wasn’t on top of his game,” Hurdle said “If he was going to paint, he was going to paint and we were going to look pretty much [in the middle of the plate] and see where that took us.”
The knockout blow came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Lance Lynn elevated a fastball that sailed into the middle of the plate, and Neil Walker deposited the ball into the right-center field seats for two-run homer, extending the lead to 5-2.
That was all the Pirates’ needed, as Cole was able to grab control of the game, followed by a scoreless inning each by Tony Watson and Mark Melancon.
Key Moment: In the bottom of the third inning, the Pirates were able to respond to Matt Carpenter’s two-run homer by starting a rally of their own. After Jung Ho Kang tied the game with an RBI single to left, the Pirates had runners on first and second and one out. Jordy Mercer hit a ground ball toward the shortstop, a ball that looked to be a tailor-made double-play ball. The ball struck Neil Walker in the foot as he was running towards third base, erasing the possible double-play and keeping the inning alive. Alvarez followed with a base hit to left-center field, scoring Kang and giving the Pirates a 3-2 lead. The Pirates never looked back.
Player of the Game: Neil Walker went three-for-four with a home run, two RBIs, two runs scored and some timely usage of his right foot.