The Cardinals lost a series at home this weekend. Crazy, huh? The series was against the Pittsburgh Pirates. St. Louis is 5 1/2 games ahead of Pittsburgh in the division standings, even though the Pirates took two of three.
On Friday, the Cardinals activated outfielder Jon Jay off of the disabled list. He had been on the DL since July 2nd. So, as you may infer, Jon was very pleased to return to action.
The first game of the series was started by Carlos Martinez and J.A. Happ. Pittsburgh wasn’t wasting any time, as they inserted two runs into their run column in the first inning on three hits and two walks. Happ was in top-notch form, tossing seven shutout innings while allowing just three hits and striking out eight. Atypically enough, the Cardinals’ pitching staff allowed nine runs in the game–Martinez went on to surrender two more, Miguel Socolovich gave up a run, and Carlos Villanueva was rocked for four runs in the ninth inning. Starling Marte went 3-for-5 off of Cardinal pitching. He drove in a third of the Pirates’ runs. Stephen Piscotty doubled in a run in the eighth inning, and Cody Stanley drove in two with a single in the ninth.
The middle game of the series was started by Jaime Garcia and Charlie Morton. The Cardinals got on the board in the second inning, when Stephen Piscotty singled home Kolten Wong. On the same play, Pirate Josh Harrison committed a throwing error that allowed Jon Jay to score. Jaime took that lead and did not let it go. He pitched seven shutout innings and allowed a mere three hits. Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in the seventh to further extend the lead. Trevor Rosenthal allowed a run in the ninth but managed to hold on and give the Cards a 4-1 victory.
The Cardinals activated outfielder Randal Grichuk off of the disabled list prior to Sunday’s game. He’s yet to be cleared by physicians to play the field or pinch-hit, but he is able to pinch-run. With the plethora of outfielders the Cardinals have, his unavailability to do much isn’t as dramatic as it could be.
The series finale between the National Central Division rivals was started by John Lackey and Gerrit Cole. The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning. That’s all Mr. Cole would need. He limited the Cardinal bats to two hits over his seven innings of work. John Lackey’s start wasn’t awful.. He just didn’t receive any run support. Lackey pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. Aramis Ramirez connected for his sixteenth long ball, and Sean Rodriguez jacked his fourth. Starling Marte homered in the ninth to cap off a stellar game for his Buccos. Greg Garcia’s two-bagger in the ninth inning was followed by an RBI-single off the bat of Cody Stanley. Pittsburgh won the ballgame by a 7-1 score.
The Pirates will commute to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio to play the Reds. The Reds have already been mathematically eliminated from the 2015 Postseason race, and that makes them a dangerous team to face. The Cardinals will welcome the Chicago Cubs in to Busch Stadium where they will play three games that are sure to be nothing short of a blast. The first game of the series, which is on Labor Day, will be started by Dan Haren and Lance Lynn.
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