Pirates lose again, fall 7 games behind Cardinals
ST. LOUIS — Pitcher Gerrit Cole offered a few reasons why the Pirates lost the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, on Wednesday and drifted further out of the division title chase.
Cole talked about his mistakes. He regretted some of the pitch selection. He said his location could have been better.
Here’s what Cole left off the list:
Right fielder Gregory Polanco let a ball skip by him, which turned a single into a game-winning triple. Second baseman Neil Walker made a poor throw, which allowed a run to score. First baseman Pedro Alvarez once again was caught out of position. Shortstop Jung Ho Kang and third baseman Aramis Ramirez had trouble with grounders.
The Pirates were charged with only two errors, but they made enough other blunders to ruin Cole’s night — again.
“He’s had four outings in a row where we haven’t defended the ball very well behind him,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Runs have been tainted throughout his outings. He pitched well tonight. He deserved better.”
The loss dropped the Pirates — who are 0-5 this season at Busch Stadium — seven games behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central.
Cole (14-6) yielded four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 5 1⁄3 innings. Over his past five starts, Cole is 1-3 with a 3.16 ERA.
“It’s not frustrating for me,” Cole said. “It’s probably frustrating for us as a whole. Nobody wants to come out and not play sharp against these guys, especially. It’s part of the game. You’re going to get dealt a bad hand sometimes.”
The Cardinals broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning. With one out and Randal Grichuk at first base, Yadier Molina hit a fast-sinking liner. The ball landed in front of Polanco, who tried to scoop it on the run.
It was an ill-considered decision.
The ball scooted past Polanco to the warning track, giving Molina just his fifth career triple. Molina scored when Stephen Piscotty punched a single through the drawn-in infield.
“It’s just a guy trying to make a play,” center fielder Andrew McCutchen said of Polanco. “It got by him. When that happens, you’ve got to shake it off.”
Hurdle was more succinct: “You’d liked him to have kept that ball in front of him. I think there’s a lesson he’ll learn from it.”
The Pirates lost their best defensive player in the third inning when left fielder Starling Marte left the game because of what the team described as left hand discomfort. He will be re-examined Thursday.
“It happened (Tuesday) night,” Hurdle said. “There was a twinge. It’s a weird kind of thing. It doesn’t show up all the time. It showed up tonight, repeatedly.”
A leadoff walk to the pitcher and blunders on three consecutive ground balls gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead in the third inning.
With one out and Michael Wacha at first base, Kolten Wong hit a bouncer to the left side. The ball ticked off Ramirez’s glove, which nudged it past Kang. It was scored a single.
Jhonny Peralta hit a sharp grounder and Walker made a diving stop. However, Alvarez had strayed far off the bag and couldn’t backpedal in time, and Peralta beat the throw.
Jason Heyward hit a grounder up the middle. Walker stepped on second to force out Peralta, but his throw short-hopped Alvarez, who couldn’t pick it. Wacha and Wong scored, and Walker was charged with the only official error of the inning.
McCutchen led off the fourth with an opposite-field home run. That snapped McCutchen’s 0-for-10 skid against the Cardinals (which began after his walkoff homer July 11 at PNC Park) and ended Wacha’s streak of 17 scoreless innings.
Polanco’s third hit off Wacha was a leadoff single in the fifth. With one out, McCutchen hit a fly ball to center field.
Grichuk stumbled as he charged in, and the ball rolled past him to the wall. McCutchen wound up with a game-tying triple.