The St. Louis Cardinals followed up a 12-8 series opening win at Busch Stadium by holding the Pittsburgh Pirates to a total of just seven hits over the next two games, and have taken a one-and-a-half game lead over the Bucs in the National League Central Division with weekend wins by scores of 5-0 and 9-2.
After scoring seven runs in the final two frames of Friday’s loss, the Pirates were held scoreless for seventeen innings until they scored twice in the ninth inning on an RBI double by Garrett Jones and a sacrifice fly by Gaby Sanchez.
In the Saturday shutout by St. Louis (83-60), Adam Wainwright and three relievers held the Pirates to three hits, including two by Andrew McCutchen. Wainwright (16-9; 3.03 ERA) allowed just two hits over seven innings, struck out eight batters and walked two. Pirates starter Jeff Locke (9-5; 3.23 ERA) took the loss, despite giving up just 3 runs (2 earned) and three hits through five innings. Locke struck out three and walked three.
David Freese slammed a two-run home run for the Cardinals. Matt Holliday, Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso also drove home runs for St. Louis.
In Sunday’s game, Pirates starter Charlie Morton (7-4; 3.44 ERA), who had gone 6-1 since the All-Star break, left the game in the second inning with “foot discomfort” with the Bucs already trailing 5-0. The Cardinals went on to add two runs apiece off relievers Stolmy Pimentel and Vin Mazzaro before Jared Hughes, Justin Wilson and Kyle Farnsworth combined to blank the Cards the rest of the way.
St. Louis outhit the Pirates 12-4 with Holliday, Freese, Kozma and Matt Carpenter all recording two hits. Eight Cardinals players drove in runs, including rookie starting pitcher Mike Wacha, who drove home two. Wacha (3-0; 2.72 ERA) pitched a two-hit shutout over seven innings with two strikeouts and two walks.
On Monday night, the Pirates (81-61) will begin their final interleague series of the season, facing the Texas Rangers (also 81-61) in Arlington, Texas. Opening game starters are expected to be rookie Gerrit Cole (6-7; 3.74 ERA) for Pittsburgh and ace Yu Darvish (12-7; 2.91 ERA) for the Rangers.