Pirates Fall to Cardinals 4-3 in Miscue-Filled 14-Inning Thriller

Starling Marte

Starling Marte went hitless Tuesday night, and fans are focusing on his 9th-inning error. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

That was an awful way for the Pirates to lose. From dropped fly balls, to missed scoring chances, to standing still at third base, to not taking advantage of near-miraculous bullpen escapes…

But the result of Pittsburgh’s 4-3 extra-innings loss to the Cardinals is very simple: instead of leading the National League Central by four games, they lead it by two games. That is the true result of dropping the series opener at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, as much as fans’ hearts raced and collective blood pressure rose.

Man, did they have their chances though. The greatest role in the Pirates losing was going scoreless and collected only six hits in the final 12 innings.

The Prelude

Andrew McCutchen made his impact on this important series right away. After Neil Walker’s one-out single, McCutchen smashed Adam Wainwright’s cutter opposite field and over the fence for a two-run homer. Next inning, Jordy Mercer smacked another Wainwright cutter just barely over the left-field wall to put the Bucs ahead 3-0.

Charlie Morton

Lost in all the drama Tuesday night — Charlie Morton pitched another strong start.

After needing 50 pitches to navigate the first two innings, Wainwright became far more efficient and effective. He allowed only one runner into scoring position over Innings 3-through-7, getting the benefit of two double plays and six total strikeouts. The Cardinals’ starter became his strong Wainwright self after some early miscues.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ offense chipped away at Charlie Morton, who escaped unscathed from runners in scoring position during the 3rd and 4th innings. St. Louis’ biggest threat arrived in the 6th, starting the inning by hitting three straight singles.

That’s when the game went from normal to weird.

Morton drew the optimal result: a ground-ball double play that scored Carlos Beltran. But Morton could not dance all the way out, giving up a line-drive RBI single to Jon Jay, cutting the Pirates’ lead to 3-2. Still, it was a quality start from Morton (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 8 groundouts).

Walker led off the Top 8th by hitting a double, but Trevor Rosenthal struck out the next three hitters to strand him. Bryan Morris gave up two singles in the Bottom 8th, but got out unscathed thanks to Walker shifting before the pitch and catching a possible go-ahead line drive in shallow right field.

The rest of this will read like an improved play-by-play:

9th Inning — Cardinals Tie It

After three straight Pirates’ groundouts, St. Louis stepped in against closer Mark Melancon. With one out, Daniel Descalso hit a fly ball to left field, but it hit off the palm of Starling Marte to go down as an error. It ended up being a massive error. Melancon struck out Matt Carpenter then pitched around Carlos Beltran to walk him. Allen Craig lined a game-tying single to right, and it was off to extra innings.

It was an unearned run on Melancon, but it was a blown save nonetheless from Marte’s miscue.

10th Inning — Magnificent Mazzaro

The Pirates could have made it a far less interesting evening by capitalizing on Gaby Sanchez’s leadoff single. Instead a sacrifice bunt and two groundouts frittered it away.

Vin Mazzaro dug himself an impressive hole to start his evening, as he walked leadoff man Matt Holliday on five pitches. Rob Johnson reached on his bunt when Gaby Sanchez’s throw to second base went wide. Jon Jay almost got on base as well, but represented Out Number 1. An intentional walk loaded the bases, and Mazzaro struck out Pete Kozma with a 94-mph fastball and got Descalso to fly out for the daring escape.

11th Inning — The Five-Man Infield

Jeanmar Gomez Pirates

Jeanmar Gomez’s three heart-stopping scoreless innings gave the Bucs an opportunity to win. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates got a runner in scoring position with two outs, but Seth Maness struck out Jordy Mercer to extinguish any threat. Then it was time for Jeanmar Gomez to pull his magic trick. Gomez gave up a leadoff single to Matt Carpenter, then threw a wild pitch and gave up a grounder to the right side so Carpenter could get to third base. Intentionally walking Allen Craig brought up the pitcher Maness with a double-play opportunity.

Replacement right fielder Josh Harrison ran in to play the fifth infielder and stood right next to second base. Maness hit a ground ball to the shortstop Barmes and flipped to Harrison who bobbled slightly but recovered to throw to first. The ol’ 6-9c-3 double play gave the Pirates life again.

12th Inning — Boring Six Straight Outs

13th Inning — The Pirates’ Missed Chance

Pittsburgh’s offensive problems came into full focus. McCutchen led off by singling to left and reached second base on a Maness wild pitch. Pedro Alvarez beat out an infield single to put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs. But when Russell Martin hit a ground ball to the right side of a shifted-in infield, McCutchen held up at 3rd. Right call or wrong, he would get no chance to score. After an intentional walk of Clint Barmes, Harrison grounded to third for the double play.

Another chance for St. Louis: Matt Carpenter roped a two-out double. Gomez walked Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig intentionally to get back to Maness, who he struck out.

14th Inning — No Mas.

The Pirates could only get a Marte walk in the Top 14th, giving the Cardinals a shot again. Jared Hughes struck out Rob Johnson, but then gave up a single to Jon Jay (his game-high 4th hit). Jay stole second base, then Adron Chambers hit a line drive into the left-field grass. Marte picked up the ball and threw for redemption… but Jay slid wide of the tag.

The Pirates’ offense went scoreless for 12 innings. The Cardinals won the baseball game. One baseball game.

James Santelli

Author: James Santelli

James covers the Pirates beat for Pirates Prospects. He is a Broadcast Journalism student at USC and has written for such outlets as NBCOlympics.com, Pittsburgh Magazine and the official websites of the Los Angeles Clippers and Pittsburgh Penguins. James previously covered the Pirates for Pittsburgh Sports Report. He also broadcasts play-by-play for the USC Trojans baseball team and was awarded the 2013 Chick Hearn Memorial Scholarship and Allan Malamud Scholarship. James dispenses puns at his Twitter account (@JamesSantelli) where he promises to write in first-person. Google

Share This Post On
  • Bucco_Joe

    The Pirates have their Jerry Meals moment for 2013. Do they fight back or fold?

    • https://www.facebook.com/tom.shock.7 Tom Shock

      They begin to fold. One of the worst offenses in
      MLB.
      They strike out way too much, when simply putting a ball in play puts the defense on the heels.

      I think they should grab another 12 wins, even by accident, but this team will not go far in the playoffs, if they are fortunate to get there.
      This was, by far, with all that was at stake, the worst loss of the season.
      I truly expect them to get swept by St louis, maybe win a few against Arizona, and get pasted on the west coast trip next week.
      They will be talking about how many games they are up , for the last wild card spot, in a week or so.
      They took a huge step in losing this division, last night.

    • Blue Bomber

      It sure felt like a defining moment. Sooner or later this franchise is going to have to overcome some adversity. To me, the difference between this year and year’s past is the starting pitching depth. The pitching has been too good and too deep to just go away. At least that’s what I keep telling myself this morning. I may even believe it by lunchtime.

      AND Marte needs to get his head out of his butt and focus on every play. Not the first time this has happened this year.

  • CalipariFan506

    It’s impossible for anybody with a rational thinking process to not think the collapse part 3 is on. The team played so scared and so tight last night. Nothing has changed. I’d be very surprised with more than 85 wins.

    • Jivepicnic

      I definitely think that a 10-34 finish is a distinct possibility. I really don’t want to believe that, but after watching these past four games, it’s impossible to ignore the likelihood.

    • benh444

      I consider myself to have a rational thought process and I don’t think collapse part 3 is on. I seem to recall just last week the Cardinals LF making a horrible defensive play that cost their team a win but no one freaked out for them. I also seem to recall that the last time the Pirates and Cards played, they lost when Morton pitched, then won both times when Liriano and Burnett pitched. To not win 85 games would have a winning % of .333. They have yet to play a 10 game stretch that bad, let alone a 45 games stretch. Relax

      • http://www.finner.smugmug.com finner68

        I agree.I don’t think a collapse is on. Marte has been great most of this year. It is too bad he made the error. Move on and win the next two!

  • CalipariFan506

    Also Barmes in the 14th was a joke. After he almost didn’t turn the double play earlier with a bad flip he gets eaten up on a ground ball right at him. This team is tight. Making mistakes they haven’t all season. Going to be a maddening 7 weeks.

  • brilemon

    Don’t freak out. Matt Holiday gave us a home run last week. Marte gave them a run back and a game.
    It’s one game.
    With our history, there is so much hyper focus. The pirates’ shortcomings havent changed. Their strengths haven’t either.

    I’m a huge worrier… And tend to over react… Seeing as how I have NOT since I was in 6th grade followed a full baseball season, it can be understandable. However, baseball is way too “factual” and scientific for this to mean the end of days. This year to this point proves the bucs will bounce back.

    Yes, they looked tight. Yes, cutch could be better in the clutch. Yes, marte is young and unfocused at times. But, I’ll bet a Frankie, aj, Charlie, cole, wandy, Locke and a shark tank that they absorb this blow and get back up.

  • CalipariFan506

    Oh they finished 16-36 last year. That’s below .333 winning percentage. It absolutely can be done. It’s not about regressing, it’s not about flukes. It’s about these guys being human. They know the past, so it’s very hard to not second guess when a game like yesterday happens. We can sit here and say they’ll be okay or refocus to make ourselves feel better. But reality is the Cards have proven they can bounce back from a rough stretch. The pirates have not.

  • buster09

    Truly,I can see a real ray of hope here. Once all the bozos climb off the bandwagon,there should be plenty of room for baseball fans who have been paying attention to this team the entire season…or longer.

  • leadoff

    As long as the pitching holds up and I think it will, the Pirates will be fine, they have not hit all year and the only difference in the last week or two from earlier in the year has been the defense, they are making far too many mistakes, this is all correctable because the talent is there.
    Last week, Locke had a 3rd basemen botch two plays, a left fielder (Same one as yesterday) let a routine fly ball go right past him, the 1st basemen on a routine throw to 2nd base hit the umpire who was a good 20 feet away from 2nd base. These kinds of problems do not happen with the frequency they are happening at when you are in a losing streak, the streak will continue until they get some good 9 inning defensive games from this team. There is a saying in baseball that you can’t give the other team 4 outs, well the Pirates have gone past 4 outs far too often.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD

    Wow, people jump on and off the bandwagon here on a daily basis…..the Bucs will be fine. Will they win their division or make the playoffs, I like their chances right now – as long as they continue to get the pitching they have been getting. Tough loss last night. But, we’ve won our fair share of these type of games as well.

  • Sports70

    “The greatest role in the Pirates losing was going scoreless and collecting only 6 hits in the final 12 innings?!?” Are you serious?!? The offense blows – has for 120 games…the greatest role, though, clearly goes to Marte – people need to quit making excuses for him and other young players…professional athletes should not be excused for making plays like that, he cost them the game, plain and simple, and when he had a chance to redeem himself, his throw home was off the mark, just like it’s been all season – yeah, what a great arm he’s displayed

    • James Santelli

      And if the Pirates score just one run over those last 12 innings, no one is talking about Starling Marte today.

      • Sports70

        Once again, the offense sucks, that’s plain as day and probably not going to change anytime soon…what shouldn’t change is being able to catch a more than routine fly ball – Marte was lazy and, as Dennis said below, did not use fundamentals…if he catches the ball, WHEN THE PIRATES HAD THE LEAD, the game is over 1-2-3…it’s not like it was tied since the third inning, they were winning the whole game, which means the offense did just well enough (even though still pathetic), the pitching did their job, but Marte and the defense didn’t hold up their end of the bargain, and that’s why they lost

  • https://profiles.google.com/103604730023609331119 Dennis Thomas

    All I have to say is TWO HANDS! I hate seeing professional athletes thinking they are too good to use fundamentals. Yea it looks cool when you catch it with one hand, but when you don’t, you look like a selfish jackas*

  • CalipariFan506

    Just because somebody doesn’t think the Pirates are going to win the division or thinks they’re going to finish poorly doesn’t make them a bozo or not a real fan. I hope you guys are right and that I’m crazy. It doesn’t mean I’m going to quit watching or going to pnc park. It only means we are expressing opinions that are different from you guys.

    • benh444

      no ones questioning that youre a fan, youre just drastically overreacting to 1 game in a 162 game season imo. as james said above, if they pull that game out in extra innings, people are talking about how the pirates own the cardinals today, not collapse 3.0 (which has been started up at least 4 times since the all star break)

  • smurph

    It just amazes me the number of people just waiting for a game like this or a losing streak of 4 games to toss in the towel. Everyone knows the Pirates weaknesses, and yet they still have the 2nd best record in the majors. I will counter your predictions. The Pirates will NOT get swept in St. Louis. They WILL contend for the NL Central, and will still be in it the last week of the season. I guess you folks have seen so much losing that you expect it to be just a matter of time. This team is better than the 2011 or 2012 Pirates in just about every aspect – SP depth, RP depth, defense, and yes, hitting.

  • CalipariFan506

    It’s impossible to be rational until they finish a season.

  • Still City Kid

    I told you the doubters were still out there. Just waiting, waiting for a moment where they could bring their negativity back. Shut the h*** up! Go root for another team. These are the same people that cried and demanded changes be made after we traded McClouth. Seriously, you don’t understand baseball and nobody cares what you think.

  • CalipariFan506

    First of all, those are the types of posts that this site does not tolerate and should not. We are here to talk baseball and because I have seen the Pirates win at a 30% clip over the past two seasons from this point further doesn’t make me an idiot or whatever other name you want to say.

    Watch the game last night. Marte’s drop isn’t what concerned me. It was Gaby rushing a play to 2nd when Holiday was gimping. It was Barmes letting that ball eat him up in the 14th. It was Cutch failing to put the ball in play with Marte on 3rd and one out and then totally overswinging after a leadoff double by Walker when he just had to hit it to the right side. Guys are not doing what has gotten them here to this point. They are tight, they are panicking, just like some of us idiot fans are. We all know what has happened the pat two years, so do the players. Until the prove once and for all they can overcome the demons (and that is excatly what they are right now) then fans have every right in the world to doubt this ballclub’s ability to even win 12-15 more games from here. Remember the game they made 7 errors last September? Remember the extra innings game in September at Cincinnati when he left a small village on base? All of this stuff weighs on the minds of every player in the clubhouse whether you guys want to ignore it or not. You know how we can tell that? Because Clint Barmes booted a ball in the 14th. Because Cutch forgets to hit for situations to get an extra run. Because Gaby Sanchez made a boneheaded throw to 2nd base when he just needed to take his time. This team is scared it’s happening all over again. And that is why a lot of us are too.

  • Still City Kid

    First of all I never called anyone an “idiot” or any other name for that matter. Secondly no one said that was directed specifically at you. And lastly it was 1 of 162 games and was lost by 1 run in 14 innings. Have faith for crying out loud, stop overreacting and enjoy the fact that the Pirates are in first place in mid-August. Like I said I think some “fans” want to see the team collapse because they are neurotic pesimists. Is that you? I don’t know, but I’m so sick of it.

  • CalipariFan506

    I expect a collapse. Call it more paranoia or self defense rather than pessimism.

    But Liriano seems hellbent on proving me wrong haha.

  • smurph

    Ok the Pirates shut up the Chicken Littles for one day. If they lose today (they won’t), the pessimists will be out in full force, even though the Pirates will still be 2 games ahead of the pack.
    It is easy to point out the weaknesses of this team. Marte drops a fly ball, costs the Pirates a game – one game. I guess you’d rather have Matt Holliday out there in left. I guess you missed him knocking a fly ball over the fence 2 weeks ago, and almost falling down on another catchable ball that went off the fence. In fact, I would rather have Marte as my fulltime LF than Matt Holliday, who is one of the Cardinals’ best players.
    You can whine all you want about the Pirates defense, but all three ESPN announcers agreed they would rather have the Pirates defense than the Cardinals’ because of their superior athleticism.