Game Report: Pirates 4, Cardinals 1

This season has not gone the way either Seung Hwan Oh or Brett Cecil would have liked for the Cardinals, and Sunday provided another example of just how much the two relievers have struggled.

Oh, expected to be the closer when this year began, gave up a two-run tie-breaking homer to Starling Marte in the fifth and Cecil, signed to a four-year contract, allowed a homer to Jordan Luplow in the sixth that carried the Pirates to the win in Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals dropped their second game in a row to the Pirates and saw their playoff hopes continue to hang by a thread entering the final week of the regular season.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Matt Carpenter’s homer in the third, his 22nd of the season, gave the Cardinals a short-lived lead … The Cardinals had only four hits in the game, all in the first five innings … They got the go-ahead run to the plate in the seventh on three walks but Tommy Pham hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice … The Cardinals received five walks in the game but none scored as they went 0-of-6 with runners in scoring position.

On the mound: John Gant made his first start since Aug. 27, for Memphis, and worked three innings, allowing one run on three hits and two walks … Oh relieved Matt Bowman in the fifth and gave up a leadoff single before Marte’s homer, the 10th Oh has allowed in just 59 1/3 innings … The homer by Luplow leading off the sixth was the seventh allowed by Cecil in 64 1/3 innings. Oh has a 4.10 ERA for the season, Cecil 4.06.

Key stat: The Cardinals finished the road half of their season with a 39-42 record, nine games below the 48-33 record they had in road games in 2016. It’s their first season with a losing road record since 2014, when they also finished 39-42.

Worth noting: Gant became the ninth pitcher to start a game for the Cardinals this season; one more than they used last year and the same number as 2015 … Carson Kelly made only his eighth start since he was recalled from Memphis on July 21. He had an infield single in four at-bats … Randal Grichuk pinch-hit for Carpenter in the seventh inning after the Pirates brought in a left-handed reliever and drew a walk. Carpenter has a .208 average against left-handers this season … The homer was Carpenter’s fifth since he pledged a $10,000 donation to Hurricane Harvey relief for each of his homers the rest of the season, a sum matched by Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals start the final week of the regular-season with the first of four games against the Cubs on Monday night at Busch Stadium. Luke Weaver will get the start in the opener against Jon Lester.