The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates who currently sit on top of the National League Central Division and who since 2013 have been one of the top two teams in winning percentage in all of baseball, battled on Tuesday night for dominance in the NL Central.
The Cardinals behind the pitching of Carlos Martinez (12-4) came out on top in a hard fought game by the score of Cardinals 4-Pittsburgh 3. The win puts the Cardinals six games in front of the second place Pirates in the Central Division.
Martinez needed to pitch carefully in his eight innings of work. Tuesday was not Martinez best outing of the season; however, he made good use of his talents and skills as a pitcher. Martinez was able to pitch around critical situations in the first and fifth innings. For his effort, Martinez pitched eight innings, allowed nine hits, five of the nine hits were for extra bases, struck out eight, and walked none. It is a living testament to Martinez as a pitcher that he had manager Mike Matheny’s confidence to return to the mound in the seventh and eighth innings. The longer Martinez pitched the stronger he appeared, the more dominant he became.
The Pirates scored in the top of the first inning when Starling Marte scored on Jung Ho Kang’s eighteenth double of the season. The Cardinals’ answered the Pirates in the home half of the first. The Cardinals challenged a play at first in which the call on the field was overturned. Kolton Wong scored on a Jason Heyward ground ball. Score tied at one.
Pittsburgh scored again in the top of the third and in the top of the fourth. In the third, Gregory Polanco scored on an Aramis Ramirez single. In the fourth, the powerful Pedro Alvarez hit his sixteenth home run of the season. Score Pittsburgh three-St. Louis one.
The Cardinals were able to manufacture three runs in the fifth inning. Pirates’ starter Jeff Locke (6-7) walked the first two batters he faced in the fifth. An RBI single by Heyward, a sacrifice fly by catcher Yadier Molina, and a single by the rookie Stephen Piscotty gave the Redbirds their first lead of the night and all of the offense needed for the win. Score St. Louis four-Pittsburgh three.
The Pirates’ Jeff Locke worked five innings, allowed seven hits, four earned runs, walked three, and struck out three.
In earning his twelfth win, Martinez threw a total of one hundred-eight pitches, seventy-eight of which were for strikes. The Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal was dominating in the ninth, striking out the side for this thirty-fourth save of the season.
In what should prove to be a marquee pitching match-up, on Wednesday the Pirates send Gerrit Cole (14-5) to meet the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha (13-4) at Bush Stadium.
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