Even with the loss, the Pirates (65-43) still lead the Cardinals (63-44) by 1.5 games in the NL Central. And, as always in perspective, manager Clint Hurdle will put this game behind himself as will the team.
“Absolutely nothing,” Hurdle said about what he would say to the team. “We just won four out of five from the Cardinals. I have nothing for ‘em.”
Charlie Morton started for the Bucs, and pitched three solid innings to begin the game. Morton allowed one run on two hits through three, but the wheels fell off for him and the Pirates collectively in the fourth as the Cardinals opened up a 5-0 lead.
“When guys see you more often, they’re going to put the bat on the ball and they were,” Morton said. “I gave up a few hard-hit balls and they got a few ground-ball hits, and like I said, I made some pitches in some situations I could’ve executed a lot better.”
Morton stayed in the contest through the sixth, and allowed another run to exit with his team trailing 6-0 through six innings. Morton (3-3) lost for the first time since July 6, as he allowed five runs on 10 hits in six inning.
“There was good, then there was the inconsistent part of it that’s causing the challenges,” Hurdle said. “Not enough first pitch strikes, he was upside-down in too many counts, only eight hitters retired on three pitches or less so for a sinkerball guy you’re looking for quicker contact.”
Morton also walked one and struck out five, while hitting two batters and throwing a wild pitch that allowed Jon Jay to score the first run of the game in the second inning.
Jeanmar Gomez followed Morton in the seventh, faced eight batters, and allowed seven runs to cross home plate as he completed just one-third of an inning. Gomez did not record an out until Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to left field, at which point Gomez had already given up six runs.
Gomez finished after allowing seven runs—five earned—on four hits and two walks.
Vic Black finished the inning and allowed another run to pass and, when the dust finally settled in seventh, St. Louis held a 13-0 lead after an eight-run seventh.
While the Cardinals’ bats feasted on Pirate pitching, Pittsburgh left its fans offensively famished against the work of Joe Kelly and Co. Kelly (2-3) pitched six shutout innings, and allowed four walks and three hits.
“He just kept the ball out of the middle of the plate, the biggest thing, ran some balls in in some offensive counts,” Hurdle said.
The Pirates did not record a hit until they already trailed 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, when Jose Tabata singled to lead off the frame. His work was automatically erased, though, as Jordy Mercer followed by grounding into a double play.
The Pirates’ offense had chances to score, but could not capitalize. In the second, Kelly walked the bases loaded with two outs but escaped cleanly after he struck Morton out swinging.
In the fourth, after a two-out basehit by Morton and a double by Starling Marte put men on second and third, Neil Walker grounded out to third.
From there, the Pirates recorded just two more hits and were unable to get a runner past first base.
“I think we lose sight of the fact that they’re human beings, and this is the major leagues,” Hurdle said. “We held a team in the bag for four days, kept the cat in the bag for four days and the cat got out tonight.”