Wainwright, Cardinals rough up Locke in 6-4 victory over Pirates
ST. LOUIS — It had been more than two years since St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright served up three home runs in a game.
Russell Martin and Jordy Mercer each hit a solo shot and Starling Marte smacked a two-run homer for the Pirates on Tuesday, but Wainwright produced almost as many runs as he allowed.
Wainwright collected three RBIs as the Cardinals rocked Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke and hung on for a 6-4 victory.
“It’s frustrating, but we knew going in to treat him like a hitter,” Martin said of Wainwright. “He gave some up, but he took them back with his bat. He was one of the toughest outs tonight.”
For the second day in a row, the Pirates blew a chance to gain ground on two of the teams ahead of them in the NL wild-card standings. The Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves lost, keeping the Pirates two games out of the final postseason berth.
Locke (6-4) pitched three-plus innings and gave up five runs, four hits and five walks.
“I didn’t have any command,” Locke said. “I fell behind everybody. I put them in counts where they either got a good pitch to hit or they could just take it. They were really in the driver’s seat the whole time.”
It was a dramatic turnaround from Locke’s effort six days earlier, when he checked the Cardinals on one run over 7 1⁄3 innings.
“It’s always in the back of your head when you face a team (again) like that, ‘Are they on to me? What’s going on?’ ” Locke said. “But it never really got to that point today, because we just fell behind everybody.”
Wainwright (16-9) worked six innings, and gave up four runs and seven hits. It was not much different from Wainwright’s performance six days earlier, when he gave up three runs and eight hits in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates.
“He didn’t look different,” Martin said. “Same stuff. Same velocity. Typically, when you see somebody for the second time in a short period of time, you get a better feel for him. You’ve seen his breaking ball, you’ve seen his cutter, you’ve seen his fastball. You know where his release point is, and you know what kind of action there is on the ball. You kind of know what to expect. When you play guys back to back like that, the hitters have an advantage.”
Locke put three men in a row on base in the first inning. Randal Grichuk singled. Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta both walked. Although Locke’s control was erratic, Matt Adams hacked at the first pitch and popped out to Martin. Yadier Molina flied out.
Martin’s 418-foot homer to center field gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second.
In the bottom of the inning, Locke walked leadoff batter Daniel Descalso. Peter Bourjos singled. Both runners moved up on Martin’s passed ball.
Wainwright’s grounder scored Descalso. After starting out 0-2, Matt Carpenter worked a full count and hit a fly ball to medium-depth right field.
Andrew Lambo, who started over Gregory Polanco (five outfield assists) and Travis Snider (six), caught Carpenter’s fly and got rid of the ball quickly. But Bourjos beat the throw to the plate to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Mercer began the third with a game-tying blast to left field. It was Mercer’s second home run in three games after a month-long dry spell.
Molina and Descalso drew back-to-back walks to open the fourth. Bourjos singled to left, scoring Molina.
Wainwright lined a two-run single to center, which knocked Locke out of the game. It marked the second time in his career that Wainwright had three RBIs in a game.
“He’s one of the best hitting pitchers there is,” Locke said. “He’s phenomenal.”
“There are usually two or three games a year that you can swing if you can provide something offensively at the plate,” Wainwright said. “Tonight was one of those games. The guys did a great job of getting on base in front of me, and I just made a couple good swings, luckily.”
In the seventh, Ike Davis walked and Marte followed with a 441-foot monster shot to left field.