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Cardinals v Pirates

Cardinal pitcher Jack Flaherty throws in the first inning on Tuesday, July 16, 2019, in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

The Cardinals got another strong pitching night, this time from Jack Flaherty, but their offense let them down in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.

Flaherty allowed just one run on three hits over seven innings, a game reminiscent of his previous outing against the Giants right before the All-Star break, when he allowed two hits and one run over seven innings and got the loss. This time, the loss went to reliever Carlos Martinez, who gave up a run in the ninth, but it was another sharp performance from Flaherty that was wasted.

Martinez retired Bryan Reynolds to start the ninth and then hit Starling Marte with a pitch. Josh Bell followed with a single up the middle to send Marte to third. Colin Moran followed with a sharp grounder to Kolten Wong at second, who dived to his left to stop it, but he bobbled it, wiping out the chance for a double play and eventually missing the chance to get Moran at first. Marte scored to put the Pirates ahead. A walk to Corey Dickerson loaded the bases, and then Kevin Newman hit a grounder to Paul DeJong at short, who got the force at second but Wong's relay to first short-hopped Paul Goldschmidt and he couldn't make the play. Bell scored to make it 3-1.  

The Cardinals could have been ahead when the ninth began but they couldn't get Dexter Fowler home from third with no outs in the seventh.

Harrison Bader's speed got them even in the fifth. He turned a bloop hit into a double and then stole third. He came home to score on a bouncer down the line that looked foul to everyone but third-base umpire Gary Cederstrom. The ball off the bat of Flaherty hit the dirt near the plate and then headed down the left field line. It was in the air as it passed third and then curved into foul territory, but Cederstrom ruled it was fair when it crossed the bag and while Pirates manager Clint Hurdle came out to complain, the call was not able to be challenged, so it stood. Bader, who was diving back to the bag at the time, got up and jogged home while Flaherty went to second with a double.

Prior to scoring, the Pirates had considered challenging that Bader was out on a pickoff play at third, but didn't. A few pitches later, Flaherty tried to steal third and was called safe by Cederstrom and the replays showed a close play. The Pirates challenged this one and after a long review, the call was overturned and Flaherty was out. Cards manager Mike Shildt came out to ask for an explanation. That was the first call that had gone the Pirates' way. In the top of the fifth, Kevin Newman was called safe on a steal attempt at second but after the Cardinals challenged, he was called out.

In the seventh, Fowler hit a fly ball that missed clearing the fence in left by inches. It came back on to the field where center fielder Marte had trouble picking the ball up and Fowler jogged into third with a double and an error. After Wong walked and the Pirates brought on reliever Richard Rodriguez, Matt Wieters ground into a force play, Bader fouled out and pinch hitter Jose Martinez grounded to second to end the inning.

Flaherty picked up where Miles Mikolas left off, blanking the Pirates in the first four innings before the Pirates finally found their way home, scoring a run in the fifth to take a 1-0 lead on the Cardinals. That was the only run allowed by Flaherty, who allowed three hits in seven innings, struck out eight and walked three.

Cardinals pitchers had blanked the Pirates for all 13 innings of the series up to that point, and had allowed a run in just one of the previous 26 innings before Pittsburgh scored. Prior to Mikolas' shutout on Monday, Arizona scored both of its runs in the ninth inning on Sunday and didn't score in the final four innings on Saturday.

With one out in the fifth, Corey Dickerson doubled to right center and he came home to score on a single Kevin Newman.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the second against Pittsburgh's Dario Agrazal after he walked Matt Wieters and Bader after a single by the seemingly unstoppable Tyler O'Neill. Flaherty, however, grounded out to short to end the inning.

O'Neill beat out a grounder for an infield single in the fourth to up his batting average to .313. He has a hit in five straight at-bats.

The Pirates had only two baserunner against Flaherty through four innings, a walk by Corey Dickerson in the second and a walk by Bryan Reynolds in the fourth.

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Tom Timmermann is a Blues beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.