September 12, 2008

Bucs pound Cards in road trip opener

Joel Pineiro probably wished St. Louis Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa had switched the starters one more time tonight as he got rocked by the Pittsburgh Pirates, seven of the 10 Pirates run scored on him, all earned.

The 10-2 pounding is not what the Cardinals imagined going into Pittsburgh for the first game of a nine-game road trip.

Tonight's game started late due to rain, while several other MLB games were postponed. There was speculation as to how much the delay might've affected Pineiro, but the Pirates' pitcher, Paul Maholm, pitched under the same circumstances, and Maholm went 8.0 innings, allowing only two runs, those in the ninth when he was out of gas but left in so he could attempt a complete game.

In a post-game interview, La Russa admitted he didn't know what was wrong with Pineiro but that something had to be done, because there had been just too many occasions where Pineiro wasn't getting it done.

Pineiro got stung right away when Nyjer Morgan tagged up and scored from third on a Brandon Moss sac-fly.

The Pirates added two more in the third when Nate McLouth lined a two-run homer out in right field.

McLouth struck again in the fifth, cracking a bases loaded (and clearing) double, sending home Maholm, Morgan, and Luis Cruz to increase the Pirates' lead to 6-0. The double chased Pineiro, La Russa bringing on Randy Flores.

Flores got hit right away, Moss trading places with McLouth at second base, adding another run to make it 7-0. That seventh run was charged to Pineiro, all seven earned.

Maholm then helped himself, singling with the bases loaded off of Flores, Moss and Raul Chavez scoring, extending the Bucs' lead to 9-0.

The Pirates added one more in the next inning, McLouth tagging up at third and scoring on a sac-fly by Adam LaRoche.

Flores ended up allowing two of the later Pirates' runs, Ron Villone letting the tenth run cross the plate. These two were followed by Josh Kinney and Kelvin Jimenez, who gave up no more Bucs' runs.

The Cardinals didn't score until there last at bats, when Maholm was pretty much gassed but left in to see if he could get a complete game. That didn't happen, Josh Phelps hitting a leadoff single, followed by an Aaron Miles double into the right field corner.

Mark Johnson, a Fall call-up and now third-string catcher, chopped an infield single down the third base line, Phelps scoring the first Cardinals' run and breaking up Maholm's bid for a shutout. Felipe Lopez took a batting practice speed pitch back up the middle, advancing Miles to third and Johnson to second.
The Pirates' brought in Romulo Sanchez, who got Nick Stavinoha to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, Miles scoring, but the Cardinals running out of outs fast. Kennedy flew out to end the game, the Cardinals dropping a tough one, 10-2, on a night when the Wild Card race teams they were chasing all were postponed from action.

The loss finds the Cards slipping back another game in the NL Wild Card, now 5.0 games behind the NL WC leading Milwaukee Brewers. As well, the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies are both 2.0 games ahead of the Cardinals.
Adam Wainwright is slated for tomorrow night's start, hoping to help his teammates get this all-important road trip back on track. Jeff Karstens will get the nod for Pittsburgh.

Game time at PNC Park tomorrow night is 6:05 p.m. CT.

The 4thebirds...LIVEcast is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.

photo by David Watson