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Wandy Rodriguez earned his second victory as a member of the Bucs with a six-inning effort. The ex-Astro only yielded three hits and as many walks while striking out three.
Joe Kelly took the loss for the Cardinals after lasting only five innings. The 24-year-old gave up five runs on eight hits and three walks.
With the win, the Pirates inched closer to second place in the NL Central. They only trail St. Louis by a single game in the Wild Card race and have closed the gap by winning four-of-six against their divisional foe in the past two weeks.
Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker will not play in Wednesday's series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals, and says that he's taking it day-by-day is dealing with the lower back pain that cropped up before Monday's game.
Speaking with Karen Price of Trib Live, Walker says that, while he's dealt with back problems before, he's hopeful it's just a short-term issue:
"I think the biggest thing with the lower back is the torque and when you switch hit, too, there's no easy way to protect it because you're going both ways," he said. "So I have to make sure that the inflammation is fully gone and not hindering me in any way, because I do have to torque both ways and reach down for ground balls and whatnot. But talking to doctors, they feel very encouraged that this won't be a long-term thing."
Walker is hitting .280/.342/.435 with 14 home runs and 69 RBIs for the Pirates this season, in 121 games.
After losing on Monday, the Pirates showed they have some fight left in them and beat the defending World Series champs, 9-0. Now the Bucs turn to Wandy Rodriguez in hopes of winning the series.
Rodriguez has been disappointing since joining Pittsburgh with just a 1-4 mark after being solid on a brutal Houston Astros squad. Interestingly, the only win Rodriguez has been able to pick up in black and gold was in relief against these Cardinals in an epic 19-inning affair.
For the Redbirds, Joe Kelly will make his way onto the mound in search of his fifth win this season. Kelly has been good with a 3.26 ERA being more indicative of his efforts than his 4-5 record. In 12 starts this year, Kelly has only given up more than three earned runs once.
The winner of this game moves one step closer to the NL wild card.
Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Pittsburgh Pirates evened up their series with the Cardinals on Tuesday with a 9-0 victory. Pedro Alvarez had a monster night at the dish and James McDonald stepped up with a steady performance on the mound. McDonald has struggled throughout much of the second half, but the righty was in rhythm all evening. He went seven shutout innings and allowed only two hits. Most importantly, he had his command and struck out six while walking only one.
Alvarez finished the night four for five at the plate, blasting two homers and driving in four. He hit almost a 900 feet worth of homers. The first went 422 feet to left center, a rocket on a 1-0 pitch by Jake Westbrook. The second went nearly 470 feet and went clear over the bleachers just to the right of the batter's-eye wall. He had a long-shot chance to match Willie Stargell's record of 15 total bases in one game, but he struck out on three pitches in the bottom of the eighth to finish the night.
While the game was a 9-0 blowout, it was not entirely without drama. Pittsburgh's Josh Harrison trucked St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina in the bottom of the second, knocking the Cards' leader out for the evening. Harrison was trying to score from second on a Jose Tabata slapped single to right. The throw one-hopped into Molina who was blocking the the line, leaving Harrison nowhere to go. Harrison's left shoulder went right into the head of Molina, knocking his helmet off but not jarring the ball loose. It was a violent collision but a clean play. The Cardinals still retaliated, however, as Westbrook hit Harrison in the leg in the fifth. Clint Hurdle angrily came out of the dugout, but the controversy ended there for the night.
After dropping the series opener to the Cardinals on Monday, the Bucs have responded in a big way on Tuesday to take a 9-0 lead over St. Louis. The lineup jumped all over Cards starter Jake Westbrook, whose sinker ball was most certainly not sinking.
Each hitter in the Pittsburgh lineup has a hit (starter James McDonald pitched in with two sacrifices), but Pedro Alvarez has busted out for the highlight night among the group. Alvarez is a perfect four for four so far, driving in four of the Bucs' nine runs. He took a Wesbrook offering over the 410-foot sign in left-center in the third for a two-run shot that made it 3-0.
Pittsburgh's four-run rally in the fifth was also started by Alvarez, who doubled home Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones. Clint Barmes knocked in Alvarez and catcher Matt McKenry to cap the rally and push the lead to seven.
One inning later, Alvarez would go deep for the second time. This one came off reliever Brandon Dickson and was an absolute titanic shot. The ball went well over the bleachers in centerfield and was measured just shy of 470 feet. Alvarez will have at least one more at-bat with a chance for a five-hit game.
James McDonald has been dealing amid the offensive outburst. The young righty pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed jut two hits.
However, the move appears to be based more so on circumstance than merit.
Here's the reaction from SB Nation's Pirates blog, Bucs Dugout:
d'Arnaud hit well in the second half after a poor first half, but this isn't a promotion based on merit. Yamaico Navarro still isn't eligible to be promoted, because it's been less than 10 days since the Bucs sent him down, so d'Arnaud is next in line. The fact that he's on the 40-man roster already also helps. We'll see what the Pirates end up doing when Erik Bedard's roster spot comes up.
In 97 games with Indianapolis this season, d'Arnaud is hitting .247 with six home runs, 24 doubles and 37 RBI.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming dangerously close to September irrelevance as they continue to slip further and further out of the playoff race. Monday's defeat marked their sixth loss in the past seven games.
James McDonald will look to turn things around for the Pirates, taking the hill Tuesday to face Jake Westbrook and the St. Louis Cardinals. McDonald is 11-6 with a 3.73 ERA on the season but has taken the loss in three of his last six starts. For the Cardinals, Westbrook enters this contest with a record of 13-9 and a 3.67 ERA.
This series continues to carry huge playoff repercussions as Pittsburgh is chasing St. Louis in the NL Wild Card race. The loss Monday dropped the Pirates three games back of the second Wild Card spot, and whether that deficit grows or shrinks will depend on the final outcome of this series.
For complete Wild Card standings, click here.
In what looked like a pitchers' duel early on, Kyle Lohse picked up the win, improving his record to a phenomenal 14-2. A.J. Burnett gets the loss after allowing three earned runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. His record now stands at 15-5.
The Cardinals quickly answered. After tossing four scoreless innings, Burnett finally slipped against the potent St. Louis offense, allowing two runs in the fifth with Skip Schumaker and Lohse picking up an RBI apiece. Luckily for the Pirates, the damage was limited when Lohse was thrown out trying to score on a double from Matt Carpenter. However, St. Louis quickly got on the scoreboard again with a Matt Holliday home run to lead off the sixth and, later in the inning, a run-scoring sacrifice fly by Yadier Molina to put the Cardinals ahead, 4-2.
Pittsburgh chipped away in the seventh with Josh Harrison scoring on a Clint Barmes double, but Jason Motte slammed the door shut, recording the final four outs to pick up his 31st save of the season. The two teams go at it again tomorrow, with Jake Westbrook starting on the hill for St. Louis and facing James McDonald for the Pirates.
The Pirates and Cardinals will do battle on Monday night in a pivotal late-August series at PNC Park.