Photo is credited to Getty Images.
Having played a couple of three-game series already, the Pirates and Cardinals met on Friday to begin their third three-game set of the year, and the Pirates had the bragging rights as it began. Pittsburgh had taken five of six meetings with the Cardinals in 2016, including a three-game sweep of their rivals to commence the regular season. The Cardinals, however, turned the tables on the Bucs this weekend, outscoring them 22-7 and sweeping a series in Pittsburgh for the first time in over seven years.
Game One/12: Cardinals 9, Pirates 3 — WP: Jonathan Broxton (1-0) LP: Juan Nicasio (5-5)
With a tied game in the top of the twelfth inning, the Cardinals plated six runs to snatch the first game of the series from the Pirates by a 9-3 score.
Gerrit Cole started for the Pirates on Friday, but he was unable to make it beyond the third inning. Cole was forced to exit after facing a batter in the top of the third with right triceps tightness, and he is all but erased from Pittsburgh’s rotation for his next handful of anticipated starts.
The Cardinals trailed the Pirates for much of the game, as Pittsburgh put up two runs against Michael Wacha and held St. Louis scoreless. Down by two in the eighth, Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals on top with a three-run homer off Neftali Feliz.
Trevor Rosenthal, who has had his fair share of struggles against the Pirates, attempted to record his twelfth save of the season, but the relentless Bucs were able to tie the game with a tally in the ninth frame, making the most of two walks surrendered by Rosenthal.
Mark Melancon and Jared Hughes pitched scoreless tenth and eleventh innings for the Pirates, and Jonathan Broxton did the same for the Cardinals. Juan Nicasio, a primary starting pitcher, was scheduled to throw a bullpen session, but he appeared in the twelfth inning of the ballgame instead.
After a pair of two-out walks, pitcher Adam Wainwright pinch-hit for Broxton. On a 1-1 count, Wainwright lined a double to deep center field, allowing two runs to score and the Cardinals to take a 5-3 lead. The lead grew to six runs before the Pirates escaped the frame, as Matt Adams and Jhonny Peralta collected RBIs before Brandon Moss hit his team-leading fourteenth homer.
-Catcher Francisco Cerveli broke a hamate bone in his left hand while batting in the fourth inning of Friday’s contest. Cerveli underwent a procedure on Saturday to repair it, and the Pirates expect him to be absent for at least a month.
Game Two: Cardinals 5, Pirates 1 — WP: Carlos Martinez (7-5) LP: Francisco Liriano (4-6) SV: Trevor Rosenthal (12)
The 24-year-old Carlos Martinez almost went the distance for the Cardinals in the middle game of the series, turning in 8.1 innings of one-run ball against the Pirates, the longest start of his career.
The Cardinals provided Martinez with five runs of support, including four runs in the fifth. Matt Holliday highlighted the crooked-number frame with a three-run home run, his tenth long ball of the season.
Francisco Liriano usually performs well against the Cardinals, but St. Louis was able to get to him just enough on Saturday. Liriano walked three batters, and that is becoming an unfortunate trend for the Pirates’ left-hander, who has walked eleven batters over his last three starts (15.1 innings.)
Martinez was helped throughout his start by three double plays, two of which were turned following base hits to begin the inning. With a pitch count of 122, Martinez was pulled from the contest with one out in the bottom of the ninth in favor of Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal was able to record the final two outs and secure his twelfth save of the year.
-As a pinch-runner in the seventh inning, Jeremy Hazelbaker stole his fourth base, the most for any one player on the Cardinals’ 25-man roster.
Game Three: Cardinals 8, Pirates 3 — WP: Mike Leake (5-4) LP: Jon Niese (6-3)
Mike Leake gave the Cardinals seven durable innings in the series finale, and the Cardinals gave Leake eight runs to work with along the way, as the Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
Matt Holliday recorded three hits in the game, including a solo home run in the first inning, his eleventh of the year. From there, it was a three-run third and a four-run sixth that lifted the Cardinals over the Bucs. Holliday drove in a run in the third to go along with RBIs from Stephen Piscotty and Jhonny Peralta.
In the sixth, the Cardinals knocked Jon Niese out of the game. Niese allowed eight runs, all earned, through one out in the sixth inning. Randal Grichuk connected for his eighth home run of the season with one out and was the last batter that Niese faced.
Following up Leake’s seven innings, Jonathan Broxton pitched a clean eighth, and Kevin Siegrist pitched a scoreless ninth inning for the Cardinals in his fifth appearance of the month, completing an 8-3 win for St. Louis.
-This is the first time since 2012 that the Cardinals have won a series in the Pirates’ house and the latest occurrence since 2008 that St. Louis has completed a sweep in the Steel City.
Cardinals: It’s interleague time for the Cardinals, who will play host to the Astros for brief, two-game set that will begin on Tuesday.
Pirates: The Pirates will make their way to Flushing for a three-game date with the New York Mets following an off day on Monday; the two teams met a week ago, and Pittsburgh took two of three.