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Pirates take 2-1 lead with 5-3 win over Cardinals

2013-10-06T20:52:00Z 2013-10-07T07:15:12Z Pirates take 2-1 lead with 5-3 win over CardinalsBy Rick Hummel rhummel@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8196 stltoday.com

PITTSBURGH _ Cardinals lefthanded rookie Kevin Siegrist barely had been touched by any opposing hitters (.128 average) but especially not by lefthanded ones such as Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who was nothing for five against Siegrist.

Lefthanded batsmen averaged only .118 off Siegrist in the regular season but Alvarez nudged that needle a little higher with a run-scoring single to break a 3-3 tie in the eighth inning tonight. Righthanded-batting Russell Martin then tacked on another run-scoring single as the Pirates, twice tied by Carlos Beltran hits, scored a 5-3 win to take a 2-1 lead in games in the best of five National League division series at PNC Park.

Game 4 will be played here Monday afternoon at 2:07, St. Louis time, with the Pirates to employ righthander Charlie Morton, long a punching bag of the Cardinals, to try to close out the series.

Morton, who will be opposed by Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha, is 2-9 with a 6.52 earned run average against the Cardinals, and has lost his last six decisions against them.

 Beltran, who drove in all three Cardinals runs, hit his 16th postseason homer and second this season to catch the Cardinals up at 3-3 in the eighth. But Pirates Most Valuable Player candidate Andrew McCutchen doubled off Cardinals rookie Carlos Martinez to open the home eighth.

McCutchen then did a very un-MVP thing by running into an out at third on Justin Morneau’s grounder to shortstop Pete Kozma.

But Martinez walked Marlon Byrd, who had driven in two of the first three Pittsburgh runs, inducing Cardinals manager Mike Matheny to call for Siegrist, who had an 0.45 earned run average this season.

Alvarez singled between first and second for one run and Martin singled to left for the second run in the inning.

The Cardinals had some life left in the ninth when Matt Adams greeted Pirates closer Jason Grilli with a single. But Jon Jay lined to shortstop Jordy Mercer, Pete Kozma (who had a strong offensive game) flied out and Daniel Descalso bounced to first.

Matheny assured reporters his team would be ready to play Monday.

"They have a short memory," he said of his players. "Right now it hurts. They're going to sit on it for a little while. Tomorrow. . . they'll be ready to go."

The Cardinals have lost just two of the previous 10 division series in which they have been involved.

Beltran ties score

Carlos Beltran, who hits postseason home runs more often than anybody else, connected for his second this postseason and his 16th overall in 136 playoff at-bats to tie tonight’s playoff game with the Pittsburgh Pirates at 3-3 in the eighth inning.

This drive, off Pittsburgh righthander Mark Melancon, gave Beltran three runs batted in for the game. He has averaged a home run every 8.5 at-bats in the postseason, best of any player who has had 80 or more at-bats in postseason play.

The Cardinals threatened further in the inning. After Matt Holliday hit a hard shot off the arm of first basemen Justin Morneau, he was retired at first by second basman Neil Walker, who fielded the carom.

Yadier Molina singled but David Freese hit into a double play and rookie Carlos Martinez entered the game in the home eighth.

Byrd is the word

Marlon Byrd, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ key stretch-drive acquisition, doubled in the sixth inning to set up the go-ahead run as Pittsburgh again went ahead of the Cardinals, 3-2.

Byrd, who had singled in the Bucs’ first two runs in the first, hit a one-out double to left, sending Andrew McCutchen to third.

The managerial wheels began spinning here. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had dangerous lefthanded-hitting Pedro Alvarez walked intentionally to load the bases. Matheny then brought in the best double-play reliever in the league in righthander Seth Maness to replace starter Joe Kelly and face righthanded-hitting Russell Martin. But Martin elevated the ball and flied to center to put Pittsburgh ahead.

Double steal helps Cards tie score 

The Cardinals’ offense began wearing down Pittsburgh lefthander Francisco Liriano in the fifth inning. And, a double steal by Jon Jay and Pete Kozma as Matt Carpenter fanned for the second out, set up Carlos Beltran to bounce a single up the middle on a 3-1 pitch to tie the division playoff game at 2-2.

Jay, hitting safely for the 16th time in his last 17 games, poked a single to left and Kozma, reaching base for the second time, walked. Pitcher Joe Kelly struck out trying to bunt and Carpenter, after working the count full, took strike three as manager Mike Matheny started the runners. Jay barely beat the play at third as Kozma alertly trailed.

Beltran got ahead in the count at 3-0, fouled off an off-speed pitch and then delivered the game-equaling hit.

Liriano escapes third-inning jam

Pittsburgh Pirates lefthander Francisco Liriano, who had held the Cardinals to two runs and 10 hits in 24 innings while beating them three tims in the regular season, was at it again for the first two innings today before the Cardinals had a shot at him _ and missed _ in the third.

Liriano retired the first seven men he faced before he allowed a one-out double to Pete Kozma. The Cardinals’ shortstop dropped a hit in front of left fielder Starling Marte who didn’t see the ball because of the late-afternoon sun and then hustled to an extra base.

Liriano struck out pitcher Joe Kelly and, after hitting Matt Carpenter, he wild-pitched Kozma to third. Carlos Beltran walked to fill the bases but Liriano left the inning still leading, 2-0, as he got Matt Holliday to fly to deep right.

The capacity crowd at PNC Park for Game 3 of the National League division series was dressed mostly in black, as if at a Steelers game and the fans were in full throat, chanting opposing hurler Kelly’s name in derision at almost every opportunity

Pirates strike for two in first 

The Pittsburgh Pirates, who have beaten the Cardinals seven times out of 10 at PNC Park this year, jumped them for two runs in the first inning of Game 3 of the National League division series.

Cardinals righthander Joe Kelly, who had given up only two runs total to the Pirates in beating them three times in the regular season (twice at PNC), issued a two-out walk to Andrew McCutchen. Justin Morneau hit a ball which deflected off Kelly to charging shortstop Pete Kozma, who threw it well wide of spread-eagled first baseman Matt Adams.

McCutchen went to third and Morneau to second on the combination hit-error and both scored on a single to left by Marlon Byrd.

Molina hits fourth

PITTSBURGH • Late in the season, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny had three fixed points in his everyday lineup. If they were available, it was clear that Matt Carpenter would bat leadoff, Matt Holliday would be No. 3 and Yadier Molina would sit at No. 5, where Matheny has often said the catcher fits best.

That changes today.

"It's a situation for us to try and put some guys who haven't seen them and get some right‑handers in there in the top of our lineup," Matheny said.

In order to shift the lineup to face lefty Francisco Liriano in Game 3 of the National League division series, Molina is moving to cleanup. He replaces rookie slugger (and lefthanded hitter) Matt Adams. Adams slides down to No. 6 in the lineup, stacking the late-lineup lefties together.

Pete Kozma makes the start at shortstop, replacing lefthanded-hitting Daniel Descalso, even though Kozma is nothing for nine with five strikeouts against Liriano.

That's the most significant change from the Cardinals' lineup of the final weeks from the season. Matheny explained that it was tied to the absence of Allen Craig and how his presence at cleanup allowed him to stick with Molina in the fifth spot, where he has excelled the past couple seasons. Adams has taken ownership of the cleanup spot with Craig injured, but Liriano's success against the Cardinals this season inspired the new look.

"For the bulk of the season, we also had an Allen Craig who was able to jump into that four spot and took that four over and drive in almost 100 runs. Whether it was left, right, it didn't matter," Matheny said. "Over the last portion of the season, we've had to try to make adjustments. That's what the game is about. Today we had to make the adjustment to give us a best chance against a good left‑handed starter. Having the ability to put Yadier Molina up in a different spot is a luxury. To us we have a number of guys we can put in quite a few different roles and they would fill those roles very effectively. So we feel fortunate to do that and hopefully it will work out for us."

Here is the lineup:

1. Matt Carpenter, 2B

2. Carlos Beltran, RF

3. Matt Holliday, LF

4. Yadier Molina, C

5. David Freese, 3B

6. Matt Adams, 1B

7. Jon Jay, CF

8. Pete Kozma, SS

9. Joe Kelly, P

And for the host Pirates:

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Neil Walker, 2B

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, RF

6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Clint Barmes, SS

9. Francisco Liriano, RHP

__Derrick  Goold

Cards have been salt in Morton's wounds 

While the Cardinals were reluctant to include righthander Shelby Miller in their rotation for the division round series between the Cardinals and Pittsburgh because Miller was 0-4 against the Pirates, Pittsburgh has shown no such reluctance to give righthander Charlie Morton the ball for Game 4 on Monday.

Morton has lost six straight decisions to the Cardinals and is 2-9 with a 6.52 earned run average against them. This season, he has allowed 12 runs in 14 2/3 innings while losing twice with one no-decision.

In his most recent outing against them in St. Louis on Sept. 8, he was touched for five runs in 1 2/3 innings and left after suffering an injury to his left foot while backing up a base. One scout who was on hand for that game, said, "I hate to say this. But I think he quit."

Morton said during a press conference today, "Anybody would like to believe that from failure you take something from it. . . whether it's a season or it's a span of starts or it's one start. So there are things that I'm going to take from it and I'm going to learn from, but I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, because I had a couple of bad games against them.

"I have to be really careful about being too critical about certain things, because I think you lose the ability to be objective."

Morton began this season on the disabled list after having elbow surgery last June. "I'm not sure if my arm is necessarily stronger," said Morton, 29. "I feel like I'm headed towards normalcy again."

But Morton, almost exclusively a sinkerball pitcher, said,

"In the future, I would like to be able to have a pitch or develop something where I could be more effective against lefties."

Indeed, lefthanded batters hit .314 (rigththanders were at .222) and Morton hit 13 of those hitters.

While the Cardinals were reluctant to include righthander Shelby Miller in their rotation for the division round series between the Cardinals and Pittsburgh because Miller was 0-4 against the Pirates, Pittsburgh has shown no such reluctance to give righthander Charlie Morton the ball for Game 4 on Monday.

Morton has lost six straight decisions to the Cardinals and is 2-9 with a 6.52 earned run average against them. This season, he has allowed 12 runs in 14 2/3 innings while losing twice with one no-decision.

In his most recent outing against them in St. Louis on Sept. 8, he was touched for five runs in 1 2/3 innings and left after suffering an injury to his left foot while backing up a base. One scout who was on hand for that game, said, "I hate to say this. But I think he quit."

Morton said during a press conference today, "Anybody would like to believe that from failure you take something from it. . . whether it's a season or it's a span of starts or it's one start. So there are things that I'm going to take from it and I'm going to learn from, but I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel, because I had a couple of bad games against them.

"I have to be really careful about being too critical about certain things, because I think you lose the ability to be objective."

Morton began this season on the disabled list after having elbow surgery last June. "I'm not sure if my arm is necessarily stronger," said Morton, 29. "I feel like I'm headed towards normalcy again."

But Morton, almost exclusively a sinkerball pitcher, said, "In the future, I would like to be able to have a pitch or develop something where I could be more effective against lefties."

Indeed, lefthanded batters hit .314 (rigththanders were at .222) and Morton hit 13 of those hitters.

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

 

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and STLtoday.com. They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.

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