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Cardinals, not successful with home runs, play small ball to beat Pirates, 5-3

Rick Hummel, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Baseball

PITTSBURGH — The Cardinals recently had homered in 12 consecutive games and 14 of 15, yet netting them only a middling record of 7-8. So they switched gears, hitting 10 singles to account for all their runs Friday night en route to a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Of course, more efficient starting pitching had something to do with it, too. Adam Wainwright, chalking up win No. 189 of his career, extended his mastery over the Pirates to 38 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, holding the Pirates to three singles before giving up a home run to Michael Chavis in the seventh, his final inning. Wainwright is 5-3 for the season and has won three in succession, pitching at least six innings in all three. The three previous starters on this trip hadn’t lasted past the fifth.

The beleaguered bullpen had a large assist as Giovanny Gallegos struck out the final five hitters of the game for his eighth save.

The Cardinals parlayed four of their singles into four game-breaking runs in the sixth inning.

A one-out walk to Nolan Arenado by reliever Heath Hembree opened the door. Juan Yepez singled to left and Pirates manager Derek Shelton called for left-handed reliever Anthony Banda to face left-handed-hitting rookie Nolan Gorman.

Gorman, who already had singled for his first big league hit and later flied to deep right center, walked on four pitches and then Dylan Carlson singled in one run, Yadier Molina singled in two and Harrison Bader singled in another before Banda was replaced.

Brendan Donovan, who had started at all four infield positions, mostly at shortstop lately, wasn’t in the field at PNC Park as Tommy Edman played shortstop and Gorman second base. But Donovan still was in the lineup, hitting second behind Edman, based on Donovan’s .490 on-base percentage.

That put both ahead of Paul Goldschmidt, who mostly had batted second this season.

Goldschmidt, who has hit third much of the season, batted second twice in the recent New York series and had six hits and six runs batted in those games, including four RBIs Thursday.

Manager Oliver Marmol said those two games didn’t matter so much as it did that Edman and Donovan were two of the Cardinals most adept at getting on base and he wanted them both ahead of Goldschmidt and new cleanup man Arenado.

In the first inning, the Cardinals did jump ahead 1-0, although it was mostly on Goldschmidt’s brain power.

Edman singled to left and, after Donovan lined out, Goldschmidt’s single to left sent Edman to third.

 

Arenado flied to short right and Edman broke for home and them stopped. With Pirates first baseman Chavis in cutoff position near the mound, right fielder Jack Suwinski threw it to him. Edman stopped and retreated. Goldschmidt immediately bolted to second knowing, for the moment, that nobody was behind him covering first. He, too, stopped and second Josh VanMeter, after taking Chavis' throw, tried to make a play on Goldschmidt. But the Cardinal first baseman stayed in a rundown long enough to allow Edman to score.

Wainwright, who is 23-7 against the Pirates, had to pitch around two walks and a single in the first inning but escaped with the help of a double play started by Gorman on the first ball hit to him in the majors.

Wainwright, teaming with Molina as a starting battery for the 312th time, third in history, allowed just two other runners through the next four innings.

Molina, meanwhile, blooped a single to left in the fifth. That gave him 328 hits (soon to be 329) in Wainwright starts, which broke a tie for first in major league history with catcher Bill Dickey and right-hander Red Ruffing of the New York Yankees. Molina was stranded, though, as was Edman. The Cardinals hit several balls hard in first half of the game but with few results.

Rodolfo Castro singled with two out in the fifth and stole second as Molina’s throw sailed into center field with no one covering. Shortstop Edman was the closet to the bag. Ben Gamel then drew Wainwright’s third walk

But on a delayed steal attempt by Castro, who pressed his luck, Molina fired toward third baseman Arenado, who was playing deep for Ke’Bryan Hayes. Arenado took the throw on the fly and got his glove on Castro as the latter dived headfirst into third for the final out.

This was a watershed play, it seemed. The Cardinals put the Pirates away in the next inning. Or did they?

After Chavis’ homer in the seventh, center fielder Bader raced into deep center to snatch an extra-base hit from Suwinski before sliding to the ground near the 410-foot mark on the wall.

Then, when left-hander Genesis Cabrera replaced Wainwright in the eighth, the Pirates made a run at the Cardinals. It started oddly enough with a throwing error by Platinum Glove third baseman Arenado. There followed singles by Gamel, Hayes and Bryan Reynolds and a forceout grounder by Yoshi Tsutsugo. The Pirates had two more runs, but no more.

Gallegos, who muffed the save on Thursday in New York, preserved this one in the eighth by fanning pinch hitter Diego Castillo and Chavis. Gallegos then fanned Suwinski, Michael Perez and Castro in the ninth.

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