April 17 – Pirates 6, Cardinals 1

The Pittsburgh Pirates completed a road series sweep over the punchless World Champion St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

The St. Louis Cardinals (6-7) were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6) in a two-game series after losing the second game by a score of 6-1 on Tuesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. Adam Wainwright started the game and gave up five runs in six innings on eight hits. He walked three and struck out four in the loss. His counterpart, Pittsburgh starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, pitched well while earning the win, pitching eight innings-plus.

Wainwright (1-1) was rocked early, giving up two runs in the top of the first inning. He issued a leadoff walk to centerfielder Chris Duffy and a single to shortstop Jack Wilson. Duffy would score on the play due to St. Louis right fielder Preston Wilson's fielding error as the ball got underneath his glove. The Cardinals were hit by another error on the very next play, as shortstop David Eckstein booted a grounder, allowing left fielder Jason Bay to reach first safely. Wainwright looked to get out of the jam by striking out first baseman Adam LaRoche, but a single by right fielder Xavier Nady brought home both Wilson and Bay. Wainwright did finally escape by picking up an inning-ending double play.

With the Pirates already up 2-0, the Cardinals needed to strike back quickly. Unfortunately, when St. Louis came up to the plate in the bottom of the first, first baseman Albert Pujols neutralized a So Taguchi walk with an inning-ending double play. Then, in the second inning, the team went three up, three down.

Wainwright got through the second inning with two groundouts and a strikeout, but the third inning proved to be the killer. After Duffy flied out to lead off the inning, Wainwright served up consecutive singles to Wilson and Bay. LaRoche, who Wainwright had struck out earlier, made him pay with a three-run home run. Down 5-0, the Cardinals seemed down and out.

The fifth inning offered the Cardinals' best chance at a comeback. Third baseman Scott Rolen led off with a base hit, and Wilson followed up with a double that put runners on the corners with no outs. Centerfielder Jim Edmonds struck out swinging for the first out, and catcher Gary Bennett hit a sacrifice fly to score the lone St. Louis run. Second baseman Aaron Miles grounded out to end the St. Louis threat.

In the top of the seventh inning, Tyler Johnson came in to relieve Wainwright. With one out, he was replaced by Brad Thompson, who gave up a single to Nady, and catcher Ronny Paulino stroked a double for the final RBI of the game. The Cardinals went on to lose, 6-1.

St. Louis now travels to San Francisco to start another two-game series on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, before traveling to Chicago for the weekend to meet Lou Piniella's Cubs.

Game Notes:

- This was a day in which half the Cardinals' starters sat out. Only Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen, and Eckstein got the start. Chris Duncan was replaced by So Taguchi, Adam Kennedy by Aaron Miles, Yadier Molina by Gary Bennett, and Scott Spiezio by Preston Wilson. Adam Wainwright didn't receive much run support from his team, but five runs is too big a gap for most - especially given the Cardinals' streaky offense.

- Wainwright had an average start, nothing like his first of the season. He has actually gotten progressively worse in each outing, perhaps in part because hitters may now have better scouting reports on him as a starter using his full repertoire. Luckily for Cards' fans, the pitching coach is Dave Duncan and he will surely be working on getting Wainwright back in a groove before long.

- Scott Rolen is my Player of the Game for his base hit and run in the fifth inning. Not much went on during Tuesday's game, but Rolen did provide a little bit of excitement.

- I'm looking forward to the series in San Francisco, as the Cardinals should face former teammate Matt Morris in the opener Wednesday night.

Brady Holzhauer can be reached via email at sportswriter5@gmail.com.

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