The Pittsburgh Pirates avoided the sweep and won game three at Busch Stadium on Thursday afternoon, 6-2, against the St. Louis Cardinals. Lefty Erik Bedard picked up his second win as a Bucco and Pedro Alvarez continued to swing a hot bat with his seventh homer of the season as the club improved to 11-14.
It’s been a while since the Pittsburgh Pirates have seen a legitimate strike out pitcher in their starting staff. Left-hander Erik Bedard continues to impress on the mound in the K department. Bedard struck out seven on April 22. He followed that up with a nine whiff performance his last outing on April 29. And on Thursday afternoon in St. Louis, Bedard did something no Pirates’ lefty had accomplished in eight seasons. He struck out 11 batters.
Bedard settled down after the first two rough innings and struck out seven straight Cardinals, which included the side in the fourth inning. He picked up his 11th and final punch out in the fifth inning, which were a season-high and passed right-hander James McDonald’s 10 for the most by a starter in 2012. The last lefty to whiff more than 10 batters in an outing was Oliver Perez on September 9, 2004 (14).
However, the southpaw’s start to the game didn’t look promising.
After battling through a nine pitch at-bat, Rafael Furcal doubled down the left field line to start the first inning. Furcal has had a leadoff hit in each of the three games this series. The shortstop advanced to third on the sac bunt by Jon Jay. After striking out Matt Holliday looking on a curveball, David Freese ripped a two-out double off the wall in left field to plate the first run of the game. Allen Craig hit a liner under the glove of a diving Pedro Alvarez at third for the third double of the inning, which allowed Freese to score the second run of the frame. Bedard got Shane Robinson caught looking to end the inning.
Bedard went on to pitch four scoreless frames. The inability to pitch deeper into the game was due to the 26 pitch first and a 30 pitch second inning in which the Pirates defense was sloppy. Clint Barmes committed his sixth error of the season at shortstop and the Cardinals swiped two bags in the frame. The second was an uncontested steal by the starting pitcher Jake Westbrook. A bloop single into shallow center and a walk loaded the bases, but Bedard was able to escape the inning not allowing a run to score.
Overall, Bedard allowed two runs on five hits over 5.0 innings. He walked two and struck out 11 while throwing 103 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Right-hander Jake Westbrook held the Bucs to two hits over the first three scoreless frames, but they rallied in the fourth. Pedro Alvarez connected for a bloop single that dropped into shallow left field for a hit to start the fourth inning. He scored on a RBI double by Clint Barmes down the left field line to bring the game within one run.
Alvarez came through once again for the Pirates in the sixth. With Neil Walker on base, Alvarez took a 3-2 sinker for a two-run shot to center, giving the club a 3-2 lead. It marked Alvarez’s seventh on the season, and his third long ball over his last four games. The third baseman continues to swing a hot bat, pushing his average from .108 on April 22, to .261 with the homer in the seventh.
The Pirates added on a fourth run off Westbrook in the seventh. Alex Presley hit a RBI ground out to score Jose Tabata at third, who doubled in the inning.
Pittsburgh added insurance runs in both the eighth and ninth innings. Barmes picked up his second RBI double of the game in the eighth off reliever Victor Marte. Barmes drove in Garrett Jones, who also picked up a two bagger. Nate McLouth, who replaced Andrew McCutchen in center field in the fourth inning, hit a RBI single with two-outs in the ninth to score Jose Tabata.
Closer Joel Hanrahan came in to pitch the ninth inning, his first appearance since Saturday in Atlanta. Hanrahan allowed a RBI double to Allen Craig with two-outs before striking out Matt Carpenter to end the game.
- Relief — Jared Hughes: 1.0 IP, K; Juan Cruz: 1.0 IP, H 2BB, K; Jason Grilli: IP, BB, 2K; Joel Hanrahan: 1.0 IP, H, R, 2BB, 2K
- The Pirates pitching staff combined for 17 whiffs on the day — the most since July 6, 1980 when they struck out 17 against the Chicago Cubs.
- Andrew McCutchen was removed from the game in the fourth inning with the stomach flu. He was replaced by Nate McLouth.
- With two outs in the third, Alex Presley singled to snap his 0-for-17 streak at the plate.
- Pedro Alvarez went a combined 11-for-24 (.458) over the seven game road trip.
- The Pirates combined for 13 hits off the Cardinals pitchers in the 6-3 win.