The Cardinals continued to struggle on both sides of the ball as they dropped their fourth straight game — this time to the Pirates.
The Cardinals opened a seven-game homestand, starting a four-game set with the Pirates Thursday night. Carlos Martinez started for the Redbirds and struggled once again, giving up five runs over five innings while walking seven and yielding five hits. The bullpen didn’t fare much better, giving up another three runs. The Cards’ offense continued to flounder against a very hittable pitcher in Chad Kuhl, scattering four hits, five walks, and a HBP for just two runs on a starter that came into Thursday with an ERA north of five.
Adam Frazier led off the game for the Pirates and walked on a 3-2 changeup that missed inside. Ke’Bryan Hayes grounded a ball past a diving Paul DeJong for a base hit. Bryan Reynolds singled to right, scoring Frazier to give the pirates a 1-0 lead and putting runners at the corners.
Colin Moran grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Hayes for a 2-0 lead for Pittsburgh. Gregory Polanco then walked on a 3-2 fastball off the plate, placing runners on first and second with one out for Kevin Newman, who bounced out to short for a fielder’s choice. Ben Gamel grounded out to first to finish the top half of the frame.
The Cards mixed up the lineup a bit on Thursday, leading off with Dylan Carlson who struck out swinging under a high fastball. Paul Goldschmidt chopped a fastball to second for the second out. Nolan Arenado went down swinging at a slider to sit the Cardinals down in order in the first.
Michael Perez struck out swinging to start the second. Kuhl walked on four pitches but was erased as Frazier grounded into a double play to send the game to the bottom of the inning.
Tyler O’Neill walked on five pitches to begin the Cards’ half of the second. Yadier Molina got jammed and popped out to third. Tommy Edman bounced out to first, placing O’Neill at second with two outs for Lars Nootbaar who singled back up the middle to score O’Neill and close the deficit to 2-1. DeJong chopped a ball to third to end the inning.
1st at-bat at Busch, 1st RBI at Busch! pic.twitter.com/kms0ANUVAB
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 25, 2021
Hayes drew a walk to lead off the third inning. Reynolds followed suit, walking on four pitches. Moran grounded out to short, but DeJong’s only play was to first for the first out, so both runners advanced. Polanco was intentionally walked to bring up Newman, who flew out to shallow center. The runners stayed put on the fly ball, and Gamel lined out to Nootbaar in right to strand the bases loaded.
Martinez opened the bottom of the frame with a groundout to second. Carlson reached on an infield hit as Frazier failed to make the throw to first from his back. Goldy then rolled into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Perez doubled down the first baseline to start the fourth. Kuhl bunted to Arenado to move Perez to third, but the Cards had the wheel play on and were able to get the lead runner for the first out. Frazier reached on a hard grounder down the line that was knocked down by Goldschmidt to keep it to a single. Hayes grounded to second, but Edman bobbled the ball and was only able to get the out at second. Reynolds, with runners at the corners and two away, launched a middle-middle changeup into the Cards’ bullpen to extend Pittsburgh’s lead to 5-1. Moran grounded out to close the top half of the inning.
Arenado got under a breaking ball and skied it to left for the first out. O’Neill drew a five-pitch walk, but Yadi ended the inning, bouncing into a double play.
Polanco grounded out to first for the first out of the fifth. Newman followed, striking out chasing a changeup in the dirt. Gamel drew another walk, giving Martinez seven walks on the evening. Perez bounced out to first for the last out.
Edman slapped a changeup into right field for a leadoff single. Nootbaar grounded out to first but was able to move Edman to second. DeJong followed with a flyout to right for the second out. Matt Carpenter pinch-hit for Martinez and popped out to third to send the game to the sixth.
Wade LeBlanc relieved Martinez in the sixth. Kuhl led off the inning for Pittsburgh and chopped a ball to third for the first out. Frazier ripped a hanging breaking ball into the bleachers in right to stretch the Pirates’ lead to 6-1. Hayes reached with an infield single on a swinging bunt, but Reynolds grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the Pirates’ threat.
Carlson grounded out to second to open the bottom of the frame. Goldschmidt worked a one-out walk. Arenado lined out left for the second out. O’Neill popped out to left to end the inning.
Moran jumped on a first-pitch fastball and flew it to center for the first out of the seventh. Polanco followed with his own flyout to center field. Newman blooped a sinker the other way for a two-out single. Gamel grounded out to second for the final out.
Chris Stratton replaced Kuhl in the bottom of the seventh and Yadi grounded a ball that bounced before crossing the plate to third for the first out. Edman grounded out to Hayes for out number two. Nootbaar then grounded out to first to close the frame.
Perez grounded out to third to open the eighth. Phillip Evans pinch-hit for Stratton and hit a home run into the Pirates’ pen, putting Pittsburgh up 7-1.
Frazier reached on an infield single as Arenado’s throw was off the bag. Seth Elledge relieved LeBlanc after the single and retired Hayes on a lineout to third for the second out. Reynolds reached on a swinging bunt against the shift. Moran, with two on and two away, singled to left-center to pile on, extending Pittsburgh’s lead to 8-1. Polanco popped out to third to send the game to the bottom of the eighth.
Geoff Hartlieb relieved Stratton in the eighth and retired DeJong with a swinging strikeout. Pinch-hitter Edmundo Sosa grounded out to third on a nice play by Hayes. Carlson dropped a liner into left for a two-out base hit to extend the inning. Goldschmidt and Arenado both walked to load the bases for O’Neill, who got hit by a 3-2 sinker to close the deficit to 8-2 and end Hartlieb’s outing. David Bednar then came in to pitch and retired Yadi on a groundout to third as the Cards left all the ducks on the pond.
Junior Fernandez pitched the ninth for the Cards as Andrew Knizner replaced Yadi at catcher. Newman led off with a flyout to right on a sliding catch by Nootbaar. Gamel struck out swinging out in front of a 1-2 changeup. Perez drew a two-out to walk to keep the inning alive before Evans grounded out to third for the last out.
The Cards went down quietly in the ninth, as Edman grounded out, Nootbaar flew out, and DeJong struck out swinging, bringing the 8-2 score to a final for a Pittsburgh win.
The Cards drop to 36-39 and fall to six games back of the first-place Brewers after the loss as the Pirates improve to 27-46. The Cardinals continue the series with the Pirates on Friday, with Kwang Hyun Kim slated to start against Wil Crowe at 7:15 PM CT.
It’s no secret that June has been atrocious for the Cards, and these tweets from Goold pretty succinctly sum up why.
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) June 25, 2021
In their past three games, including five innings tonight, #Cardinals have walked 19 batters.
They have 16 hits.
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) June 25, 2021
Final Pitching Lines
Martinez (L, 3-9): 5 IP / 5 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 7 BB / 2 K / 1 HR
LeBlanc: 2.1 IP / 5 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 2 HR
Elledge: 0.2 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Fernandez: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Kuhl (W, 2-4): 6 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 3 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Stratton: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Hartlieb: 0.2 IP / 1 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Bednar: 1.1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR