Occasionally, an opposing pitcher has his way with a team, and there isn’t much that can be done.
This was the case Saturday night as Carlos Martinez and the St. Louis Cardinals bested the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-1.
Martinez (7-5) went a career-high 8.1 innings in this game, and his 122 pitches were the most by a Cardinals pitcher this season. He also kept the ball on the ground, getting 12 ground-ball outs.
While Martinez kept things rather clean, it took a little time for his mound opponent, Francisco Liriano (4-6), to get into form.
From the beginning, Liriano continued to have control issues, needing 29 pitches to get out of the first inning. During this stretch the Cardinals loaded the bases with a walk and two singles. Liriano appeared to put his first-inning struggles away, retiring 11 consecutive batters before a four-run fifth inning proved to be his undoing.
Brandon Moss led off the fifth inning with a double on a 1-1 pitch. He then advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball after Jedd Gyorko’s strikeout. Gyorko ended up on first base.
It appeared as though Liriano would limit the damage to that one run as he got two quick outs. But he then walked Almedys Diaz on four pitches. Matt Holiday hit a home run, his 10th of the season, a pitch later.
The Cardinals added a run in the seventh inning on a Jhonny Peralta single. Jeremy Hazelbaker was thrown out at home by Chris Stewart, but the Pirates’ catcher was removed from the game after feeling pain in his left foot. With catcher Francisco Cervelli on the 15-day disabled list, it was up to Erik Kratz (who was acquired by the Los Angeles Angels earlier in the day as a trade).
Because he had just joined the team, Kratz who was working with Pirates’ pitchers for the first time, it’s unknown how much — if any — video he saw. Kratz was one of three players to join the Pirates roster as pitcher Rob Scahill returned and pitcher Arquimedes Caminero came back from his rehab assignment.
And both pitched Saturday. Scahill allowed the seventh-inning run, and Caminero stranded two runners in scoring position during his ninth-inning outing.
The Pirates lone run came on a seventh-inning Josh Harrison sacrifice fly.
Sunday, the Pirates will look to avoid losing nine of their past 12 games. Jonathon Niese (6-2, 3.93 ERA) will face Mike Leake (4-4, 4.22 ERA). Niese is 4-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 10 career starts against the Cardinals.
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