Thursday’s Game Report: Pirates 5, Cardinals 1

Thursday’s Game Report: Pirates 5, Cardinals 1

By Rob Rains

Dakota Hudson had to leave his start on Thursday night after two innings because of tightness in his right elbow, which could turn into a bigger problem for the Cardinals than their loss to the Pirates.

Hudson said an X-ray came back negative, but he will undergo more examination of his elbow on Friday.

“Clearly there’s some worry because he was removed from the game,” said manager Mike Shildt, who did describe his level of concern at this point as “low” based on the immediate examination.

“We will get imaging tomorrow and clearly have a better idea. Initially, and hopefully that will remain the case, nothing structural. … My hope is we were able to catch it early.”

Hudson said he was pleased with what he heard in the initial exam, but like Shildt knows what Friday’s examination reveals could be more important. He said he wanted to start to see if he could work through the tightness but after two innings thought it best to come out of the game.

“It just like it was better to take a step back and make sure everything was OK before going forward,” Hudson said. “I’m pretty hopeful. I’m really not stressing too much about it until I know more tomorrow. I’ve got a good mindset about it, just waiting until I have the facts to feel anything.”

The Cardinals offense also is hurting now too, getting just two hits for the second consecutive game. It’s only the third time in franchise history they had two or fewer hits in consecutive games, the first time it’s happened since 1975.

They have lost five of their last seven games and now trail the Reds by one game in the race for second place in the NL Central.

The Cardinals had to use five relievers to cover the rest of the game after Hudson’s early exit, on the eve of their third doubleheader in the last five days.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Both of the Cardinals hits came in the third inning. Kolten Wong, hitting ninth after missing three games because of soreness on his left side, singled following a walk to Rangel Ravelo, who then scored on a single by Tommy Edman … The only other baserunner came when Yadier Molina walked with two outs in the fourth … Steven Brault then retired the final 16 batters in the game … Combined with the shutout loss to the Brewers on Wednesday night in the second game of the doubleheader, the Cardinals have scored one run on four hits in their last 16 innings, with only two hits in the last 13 innings.

On the mound: Hudson allowed just one hit and walked two in his two innings … Austin Gomber took over on the mound and gave up a three-run homer to Gregory Polanco in a four-run fourth … Tyler Webb gave up the final run in the fifth … Seth Elledge, Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez covered the final 2 2/3 innings.

Key stat: Thursday night’s game was the 165th game for the Cardinals at PNC Park since it opened in 2001 and it was only the second time they collected two hits or less. They were held to one hit by A.J. Burnett on April 17, 2013.

Worth noting: The Cardinals told several people on their player development staff that their contracts will not be renewed on Thursday, a day after jobs in at least two other departments also were eliminated. Details of the cuts among the player development staff have not been confirmed … After losing the second game of the doubleheader on Wednesday in Milwaukee, the Cardinals optioned Johan Oviedo to the satellite camp in Springfield, keeping Justin Williams on the roster. He had been the 29th man for the doubleheader … John Gant might be able to pitch on Friday, depending on how he recovers from his workout on Thursday … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first time the Cardinals have played consecutive five-game series since 1962, when they played five games in Philadelphia and five games in Chicago.

Looking ahead: Carlos Martinez will get the start in game one of Friday’s doubleheader, and Daniel Ponce de Leon will come back on short rest to start game two.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.