By: Jim Tsapelas
The Pittsburgh Pirates who brought a four games losing streak to St. Louis sought their revenge and redemption on Friday when the Pirates won the first game of their three games series by the score of nine to three.
The Pirates who lost their last game in a series with the Colorado Rockies, and who were swept in a three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers, found their offensive magic in St. Louis.
Pirates’ starter A.J. Happ (8-7) had been 1-8 with a 6.79 ERA in ten previous starts against the Cardinals. Happ last faced the Redbirds in 2012. The Pirates got Happ from Seattle where he was 4-6 with a 4.64 ERA. After coming to the Pirates, the left-handed pitching Happ went 3-1 in August with a 1.98 ERA.
On Friday, Happ limited the Cardinals to just three singles and no runs in his seven innings of work; striking out eight Cardinals’ batters and walking none.
Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez (13-6) labored through a thirty-six pitch first inning, where he walked the Pirates leadoff batter Gregory Polanco in a thirteen pitch at-bat. Polanco came around to score. There is an adage in baseball, “Walk the leadoff man, they’ll come around and score.” The adage haunted St. Louis on Friday. After the first inning, Martinez threw three solid innings and was taken out of the game by manager Mike Matheny following a two-run fifth inning. Martinez, who has been one of the bright spots in the Cardinals’ rotation this season, has seen his ERA rise from 2.34 to 3.04 over his last seven starts.
Previously the Pirates had won just one game out of six in St. Louis this season. With the loss, the Pirates reduced the Cardinals’ lead in the National League Central Division to five and one-half games.
Saturday the Pirates send Charlie Morton (8-6) to the hill to meet the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia (7-4) at Busch Stadium.