Game Report: Pirates 4, Cardinals 3

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals’ game on Wednesday was one Matt Carpenter would surely like to forget as soon as possible.

Four times Carpenter came to bat with a runner on either third or second base, and four times he failed to get the runner home in the loss to the Pirates at Busch Stadium.

He left Daniel Poncedeleon on third after a leadoff triple in the third, Poncedeleon’s first career hit; Harrison Bader was stuck at third in the fifth; he left Carson Kelly on second with no outs in the eighth, and then took a called third strike on a 3-2 pitch to end the game, again leaving Bader at third.

Only one of those runners scored later as the Cardinals finished 3-of-14 with runners in scoring position.

Carpenter was not available to the media after the game.

“We left some money on the table for sure,” said manager Mike Shildt. “We weren’t able to execute when we had some opportunities. A man on third with less than two outs, you feel that somehow you ought to be able to get the run home. It’s frustrating.”

The loss kept the Cardinals from sweeping the Pirates and gaining a game on either the Cubs or Brewers, who played each other on Wednesday night.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Despite their earlier failures, the Cardinals had a chance to at least tie the game in the ninth. Yairo Munoz led off with a single and scored on a pinch-hit single by Patrick Wisdom to pull the Cardinals within one run. But with a runner on third (Bader, who had walked) Paul DeJong struck out and Carpenter took a called third strike … A first-inning single by Marcell Ozuna gave him 80 RBIs, temporarily taking over the team lead from Jose Martinez, but Martinez pulled back into a tie with an RBI on a fielder’s choice groundout in the eighth … In their last five games, the Cardinals have scored 21 of their combined 30 runs in the seventh inning or later.

On the mound: Poncedeleon allowed five hits and two runs over five innings while striking out seven … The Pirates added two runs in the sixth off Mike Mayers in his first gamer since coming off the DL … Dominic Leone, Brett Cecil and Chasen Shreve all worked a scoreless inning of relief.

Key stat: With 16 games to go in the season, the Cardinals have hit nine triples this year, the fewest by any team in the majors. The fewest they have ever hit in a season in franchise history was 13 in 2007. The second lowest total for triples this season is 12 by Baltimore.

Worth noting: Poncedeleon is the first Cardinals pitcher to get his first major-league hit on a triple since Todd Worrell did it in the second game of a doubleheader on July 30, 1986 at Philadelphia. The only other time that has happened since 1929 was when John Stuper did it on June 1, 1982. The last Cardinal at any position to get a triple for his first major-league hit was Luis Alicea in 1988. “I made contact, so I was a little surprised,” Poncedeleon said. “When I saw the third baseman miss it, I thought I had a single. Then I saw the leftfielder running after the ball.” Poncedeleon had been 0-of-8 with the Cardinals and 2-of-29 in his minor league career, both hits singles for Springfield in 2016 … The Cardinals activated Jedd Gyorko from the DL before the game and he flied out as a pinch-hitter in the ninth.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals open a four-game series against the Dodgers Thursday night at Busch Stadium. Austin Gomber will get the start.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains