Sunday’s Game Report: Pirates 7, Cardinals 2

Sunday’s Game Report: Pirates 7, Cardinals 2

By Rob Rains

For Max Kranick, Sunday was a day to remember. For the Cardinals, it was another day to forget, one of many they have experienced this season.

Kranick made his major-league debut for the Pirates at Busch Stadium and did not allow a baserunner in five innings, his bid for a perfect game or a no-hitter stopped not by a Cardinals hit but by a 64-minute rain delay before the start of the sixth inning.

The Cardinals lost three of the four games against the last-place Pirates and fell back to four games under .500 for the season. Their record in June is now 7-17, with three games left in the month to try to get a win from a starter other than Adam Wainwright.

“We go in with positive expectations, clarity of what we are looking to do, but we’ve gotten one guy who’s been able to be consistent for us over a month,” said manager Mike Shildt. “I think it’s pretty clear.”

In Kranick’s last game before his major-league promotion, on June 18, he allowed five runs and eight hits over five innings for  Indianapolis against Memphis, the Cardinals’ Triple A affiliate. He needed only 50 pitches to retire all 15 Cardinals he faced on Sunday but did not return following the rain delay.

Kranick’s teammates handed him the lead before he threw a pitch as they pounced on Johan Oviedo for three runs in the first inning. The Cardinals trailed 12 pitches into the game, were behind 2-0 four hitters into the game and took advantage of four walks in the three-run inning, when Oviedo threw 43 pitches. Kranick actually got an at-bat before he took the mound.

“We’ve got to quit getting down early,” Shildt said. “That’s really pretty clear. … We’ve got to be able to hold people at bay to give us a chance.”

Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:

At the plate: After play resumed following the rain delay, the Cardinals were retired in order in the sixth before Dylan Carlson got their first hit to break up the perfect game with a double leading off the seventh. He later scored on a sacrifice fly from Nolan Arenado … Yadier Molina led off the eighth with a double and scored on a single by Paul DeJong … It was the eighth time this season the Cardinals have been held to three or fewer hits and the 32nd time, in 78 games, that they have scored two or fewer runs.

On the mound: Oviedo remained winless in his career, including nine starts this season and 14 over the last two seasons. He pitched four innings on Sunday, giving up two more runs in the fourth. He has gone more than five innings only once in his nine starts this season … Jake Woodford took over in the fifth and allowed two homers as the Pirates increased their lead to 7-0 … Junior Fernandez threw two scoreless innings and Seth Elledge struck out the side in the ninth.

Key stat: Kranick became the ninth pitcher to make his major-league debut as a starter against the Cardinals in the 16-year history of Busch Stadium 3, and the third to pick up a victory. The others to do it were Amir Garrett of the Reds, who had six scoreless innings and allowed jut two hits on April 7, 2017, and Barry Enright of the Diamondbacks, who allowed one run over five innings on June 30, 2010.

Worth noting: Oviedo’s fourth walk in the first came with the bases loaded, the 18th time this season the Cardinals have walked in a run … The Cardinals will make their first non-injury related change to the rotation on Monday night but Carlos Martinez will get another start on Tuesday night. “He’s got to pitch better to keep his spot. Our internal options are somewhat limited,” Shildt said … Arenado and Molina advanced to the finals in fan voting for the All-Star Game but Tyler O’Neill did not, finishing 10th in the initial round of voting, with nine outfielders advancing to the final vote … Harrison Bader had a single, walked and hit a sacrifice fly for Palm Beach on Sunday. He was 3-of-9 in three games with the Class A team and is scheduled to be re-evaluated on Monday, a day off in the minor leagues … Reliever Kodi Whitley will begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday night with Double A Springfield.

Looking ahead: Wade LeBlanc, signed as a free agent 10 days ago, will replace John Gant in the rotation on Monday night as the Cardinals open a three-game series at Busch Stadium against the Diamondbacks, the last-place team in the NL West.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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