Whoever wants to say the Pirates' offense will be one of the worst in baseball, they should probably look at the line score from this game. Seven runs and 17 hits later, the Pirates got to Cardinals starter Todd Wellemeyer early and got to him often, blasting him for 12 hits and five runs through five innings.
Wellemeyer, who had the Buccos' number for most of last season, pitched with a similar velocity as a high schooler.
Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez had four hits each as the Pirates jumped out early, defeating the Cardinals 7-4.
Zach Duke pitched a terrific game for the pirates, going six and a third, only allowing one earned run.
The Pirates, who were a little upset over how last night's game finished, not being able to get anything going against Kyle Lohse. A few lineup changes were made, mainly starting Ramon Vazquez at third base, hallelujah. They did not begin the game well, as Captain Nyjer Morgan fanned on the first at-bat of the game. Here we go again.
It was not to be. Sanchez reached on an infield single and then Ryan Doumit absolutely destroyed a pitch to deep center for a ground rule double. Damn baseballs bounce too much, or the Pirates would have another first inning score. Adam LaRoche would harmlessly ground out to first to end the inning.
Duke came out throwing well. Despite handing rookie Colby Rasmus a free pass, he would induce a double-play ball from double-A talent Khalil Greene. Wilson to Sanchez to LaRoche, that's a new one for sure. NOT.
It was message sending time. All-Universe first baseman Albert Pujols stepped to the plate. He has completely terrorized Corsair pitching throughout his entire career.
Duke would have none of it. He made a couple good pitches, and then froze him inside for the strikout. Sit down, Big Albert.
Open the floodgates.
Yorkshire terrier Brandon Moss singled to start the inning. A walk to Vazquez had the Pirates in business immediately. Mr. Automatic, A.K.A Jack Wilson drove another single for his team-leading fourth RBI.
Duke came up, attempting to lay down a bunt that would advance the runners. But after one of the most horrific bunts in the history of baseball, Duke would be out after sending it foul on an 0-2 count. Impressive stuff.
No worries. Morgan came up and roped another single, Vazquez scores. Keep it coming as Dirty Sanchez rips yet another single, Jack Wilson scores. Wellemeyer is pitching as well as a guy who was just called up from single-A.
Nate McLouth walks. Doumit annihilates another pitch, this time at Ryan Ludwick, four-zip Pirates after Morgan scores. Wellemeyer would finally get out of the jam after Adam LaRoche fouls out.
Then the Cardinals hit the jackpot. A mystery "catcher inferference" call on Doumit gave Ludwick a free pass. Using the moment to his advantage, 2008's breakout player of the year quickly swipes second base.
Yadier Molina smacked a ball right at Wilson for the sacrifice, moving Ludwick over to third. Rick Ankiel drove him in with a harmless single up the middle.
The Pirates would wheel the ship around to score again in the top of the third. Moss doubled to start the inning. He must have ate his Wheaties this morning. Wilson drove him in two batters later, no surprise there. Jack has been playing like he's got multiple 140+ RBI seasons under his belt.
Duke must enjoy fireworks. He got Branden Ryan, Rasmus and Greene to all fly out in the bottom of the third. How pretty! Speaking of Ryan, he gets my Heads Up Play of the week award. He made a tremendous play to pick off Doumit in the second inning.
For the first time all game, the Pirates and Cardinals were retired quietly in the fourth.
The Buccos got back to hitting again in the fifth inning, but were unable to put more runs on the board. Wilson and Moss each recorded their third hits of the game.
The Gods again smiled on St. Louis in the bottom of the fifth. Duke breezed Ankiel to start the inning, or so it appeared. The pitch was so effective, it fooled both Ankiel and Doumit. Ankiel fanned completely, while it hit Doumit in the shoulder, causing him to hunch over in pain.
Meanwhile, Ankiel took first on the dropped ball by Doumit.
A few hitters later, Ryan sacrificed him home.
In the sixth, Tony La Russa finally got smart and yanked Wellemeyer. But it was too late. Reliver Brad Thompsoncame in to face the red-hot Corsairs. Freddy Sanchez welcomed him by smacking a double in the direction of the world's luckiest man. Next batter, Nate McLouth got his first hit of the season.
It just happened to be a two-run bomb that landed somewhere in the Cardinals bullpen. Hail to the king!
After some sluggish play, Duke came up to bat in the seventh. JR didn't want to pull him just yet. Hell of a manager. Duke rewarded him handsomely for the choice, smacking a double to right-center.
The Cardinals would make their last stand in the bottom of the ninth. Facing Tyler Yates, Thurston doubled in David Freese. That was enough for JR to bring in the real iceman, Matt Capps.
Rasmus worked the count up, pretending like he's actually an effective major league hitter, but Capps got him to fly out to Gold Glove center fielder Nate McLouth.
Beautiful snag by Nate the Great, right at the wall.
Khalil Greene launched a pitch right at Vazquez, who made the routine play to end the ball game. Had Andy LaRoche been at third, who knows what the hell would have happened to that ball.
Final Score: Pirates 7, Cardinals 4
STARS OF THE GAME
PIT: Jack Wilson (4-5, 2 RBI, R) and Freddy Sanchez (4-5, RBI, R)
STL: Joe Thurston (2-3, 2 2B, RBI)
PIT: Zach Duke 57
STL: Todd Wellemeyer 24
Ross Ohlendorf will take the hill against Chris Carpenter tomorrow afternoon at 1:40 ET. This is the final game of the four-game series.