PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Despite making a quality start on Sunday afternoon at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, left-hander Erik Bedard got the tough luck loss (his fourth of the season) after the Pirates bats were able to push only one run across home plate.
While posting a 2.63 ERA, Bedard has received a total of just two runs of support in his first four starts of the 2012 season (24.0 innings).
“All you can do is battle,” Bedard said. “Runs will come, and right now they’re not coming. You just keep doing what you can.”
“I thought he gave us every opportunity to win us the game,” Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle said. “We scored two runs for Erik in his four starts. That’s problematic, but he pitched a pretty good ballgame today.”
After combining for just four hits over 7.0 scoreless frames off right-hander Kyle Lohse, the Pirates were able to plate a run in the eighth inning. Catcher Michael McKenry led off the frame with a double off the Roberto Clemente wall in right field. He scored on the base knock by pinch-hitter Casey McGhee.
“It was a fastball up in the zone,” McKenry said. “It was up, out over the plate. With Lohse, he was at the bottom of the zone all day long. You’re just trying to get a pitch to hit. He left it up for me.”
The Pirates weren’t able to rally back against the Cardinals, combining for six hits overall. Jose Tabata ripped a double down the third base line for his first extra base hit of the season in the sixth . The other three hits were singles by the Bucs in the 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in front of 30,437 fans.
“It was a steady mix,” McKenry said on Lohse. “You didn’t know what was coming. He was using his breaking balls really well. Throwing 2-1 sliders and curveballs. He was using every pitch very well today…Just keeping us on our toes. That’s what you got to do as a pitcher.”
In the first, Rafael Furcal ledoff the frame with a single into shallow center field. Tyler Greene dropped down a bunt that trickled down the third base line for an infield single. Bedard followed by loading the bases with no outs after walking Matt Holliday.
Bedard was able to get his next batter, Carlos Beltran to hit into a double play, but Furcal scored to take a 1-0 lead. In 11 of their first 15 games, the Pirates or their opponent have scored int he first inning. In Bedard’s last start on Monday in Arizona, Bedard also allowed one run to score in his first inning of work.
The lefty worked himself into jams in each of his next two frames. Bedard was able to escape the second after a leadoff double by punching out two of his next three batters. However, the Cardinals were able to tack on two more runs off Bedard in the third.
“It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. He can get out of jams. He can change speeds. He works it forward and back,” Hurdle said. “That fastball it might play up to 91, but when you throw that slow hook, the changeup, it gets on people in a hurry. He’s able to hit spots. He’s a smart pitcher. For the most part, he stays away from the middle of the plate. He stays to his strengths and doesn’t give in. He’s always confident that he’s always one pitch away from getting out of a jam.”
For the third straight inning, Bedard allowed his leadoff batter to reach. Furcal picked up his second hit with a double into the gap in left center field. Greene followed by drawing a free pass, Bedard’s second of his outing. Holliday flew out to deep center field to allow Furcal to tag up and advance to third base. During an at-bat with Beltran, catcher Michael McKenry allowed a passed ball to advance Greene to second. Both runs scored (only one earned) on the two-run knock to right field by David Freese.
“[I] battled in a lot of innings. I minimized damage when there was runners on,” Bedard said. “You always want [the command] better. I got out of some jams. Just got to throw strikes.”
“The one situation with the single to Freese,” Hurdle said. “Tried to sneak a fastball by him. That young man has done a pretty good job of driving in runs in the year-plus that he’s been up in the big leagues.”
Over his next four scoreless frames, Bedard held the Cardinals to two hits, both singles, while striking out three.
“He just settled in,” catcher Michael McKenry said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a guy with tremendous stuff. He just competed and threw all of his pitches for strikes. It’s all about settling in. Sometimes it takes an inning or two just to settle in. And that’s what he did. He did a great job and gave us an opportunity to be in the ballgame in the late part of the game.”
Overall, Bedard allowed three runs on seven hits over 7.0 innings. He walked four and struck out seven while throwing 102 pitches, 64 strikes. Bedard tied A.J. Burnett for season-high seven whiff’s. His 102 pitches are also the most thrown by a starter this season, and the first to reach the 100 pitch mark.
“That’s one of our goals –to extend pitch counts, get them up over 100, keep pushing them forward,” Hurdle said. “He felt good. Just the importance of our starting pitchers pitching deeper into games.”
“I thought it was a very blue collar effort from Erik today. He battled. To give us seven, three runs. He was maybe off just a tick command-wise but he kept making pitches, kept coming after them. He had 18 hitters retired on three pitches or less. The six three ball counts stretched him out a little bit.”
Right-hander Evan Meek allowed the Cardinals to tack on two more runs in the top of the ninth. Shane Robinson drew a one-out walk and scored on the RBI single by Rafael Furcal. Matt Holliday hit a two-out RBI to right to plate the fifth run of the game.
- Relief — Chris Resop: IP, K; Evan Meek: IP, 3H, 2R, BB, K
- With the 5-1 loss, the Pirates fall to 6-9 on the season.
- Outfielder Jose Tabata was the only Pirate to pick up multiple hits in the 3-1 loss. Tabata went 2-for-4 with a single and a double.
- The Pirates bullpen entered game action with a National League-best 2.09 ERA.
- In their first 15 games, the Pirates have yet to score or allow more than five runs in any contest. The 1965 Pirates hold the N.L. record for beginning a season with 16 straight games in which they did not score or allow more than five runs.