Bullpen Lifts Bucs Past Cards
ST. LOUIS – Francisco Liriano wasn’t feeling well. First came a nosebleed, then the Pirates pitcher felt dizzy at the plate before flying out to end the second inning.
Liriano was getting hooked up to an IV to deal with flu-like symptoms when the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen stepped up big-time in a 6-1 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday that snapped a four-game losing streak.
Waiting to be taken out in the third inning, the lefty was bent over, hands on his knees.
“I just feel dizzy, weak and dizzy,” Liriano said after the game. “I don’t know. I just feel sick.”
Gaby Sanchez had two RBIs in a four-run fourth inning and five relievers combined to work seven strong innings, with key outs from rookie Stolmy Pimentel and Jared Hughes against Yadier Molina.
“Pimentel pitched as big an inning as we’ve had pitched for us all year in the third,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You had 40-plus on their feet, a 3-2 count on Molina, on jersey day.
“To get the swing and miss and then carry it deeper, a big-time push from Stolmy.”
Matt Holliday had an RBI double for the Cardinals, who have mustered five runs in their last six games. They got three hits and a run after Liriano left and got beat by an over-shifted defense, too, when Matt Adams lined out to shortstop Jordy Mercer stationed right behind the second-base bag with a man on third in the seventh.
“We’re just not clicking,” said leadoff man Matt Carpenter, who was 0 for 3 with two walks. “We’re having good at-bats, guys are competing, but stuff just isn’t falling in for us.
“It’s just the way it’s going right now.”
Molina was a bust on his jersey giveaway day, striking out with the bases loaded to end the third against Pimentel (2-0) and popping out with runners on second and third to end the fifth against Hughes. He entered batting .431 during a 15-game hitting streak.
Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata each added an RBI off Tyler Lyons (0-2) in the fourth, with the first four runners reaching safely after the lefty opened with three perfect innings. Tabata totaled three hits and is a career .345 hitter at Busch Stadium.
“He continues to find a way to find hits in this ballpark,” Hurdle said. “He’s really been a solid offensive ballplayer for us here.”
The Pirates have scored seven runs while Liriano was in the game in his six starts. They jumped into gear the inning after the lefty was taken out en route to just their third win in their last 10 games.
“That one inning obviously changes the whole day,” Lyons said. “The one inning, that’s a killer.”
Hurdle said there were no health concerns at the start of the game and noted, “the first two innings were pretty crisp and clean.”
“It just snowballed on him,” the manager added.
Pittsburgh also has struggled offensively, totaling four runs during its losing streak, and got shut out 1-0 in the series opener Friday.
“We got some key hits that we haven’t been getting,” Gaby Sanchez said. “We were finally able to put something together and get some runs across. It was good to get the lead and stay ahead.”
Liriano walked Lyons to start the third and was behind 3-0 against leadoff man Matt Carpenter before meeting with a trainer on the mound, and then departing.
Tony Sanchez added a two-run single in the ninth off Eric Fornatoro after striking out his first three at-bats.