Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Pirates 6
By Rob Rains
The good news on Thursday was that for the first time in 58 days, the Cardinals finally saw their record improve to two games over .500.
The bad news is that it came on a day when they might have lost two more players to injuries.
Outfielder Dylan Carlson and starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc both had to leave the game early, before the Cardinals were able to hang on and complete the sweep of the three-game series in Pittsburgh.
LeBlanc had to come out after just two innings because of tightness in his left elbow. Manager Mike Shildt said LeBlanc will return to St. Louis to get imaging on his elbow on Friday, when the team should know more about the exact extent of the injury.
Carlson came out of the game after striking out in the fourth with what was announced as right wrist soreness. Shildt said Carlson was going to go with the team to Kansas City but would undergo an MRI on Friday.
“He felt a little something yesterday and nobody medically thought there was any issue so we monitored it and it flared up a little on him today so we got him out of there,” Shildt said. “Anytime a guy is getting imaging there is some concern.”
About LeBlanc, Shildt said the pitcher just starting feeling “tightness” in his elbow, an issue he has apparently dealt with in the past. “Hopefully we got on top of it,” Shildt said.
The Cardinals, who got home runs from Paul DeJong and Lars Nootbaar, used six relievers to cover the final seven innings of the game in getting the win that raised their record to 58-56, the first time they have been two games above .500 since June 16.
“It’s nice to get on the plus side of the ledger and now it’s time to not look back and move forward,” Shildt said.
Here is how Thursday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The seven runs gave the Cardinals eight consecutive games scoring four or more runs, their longest streak since they did that in 10 games in a run in April 2019 … Nolan Arenado doubled in Carlson, who had singled and stolen second, in the first before the Cardinals got the two-run homers from DeJong and Nootbaar in the fourth. DeJong’s homer was his 16th of the season while Nootbaar hit the first of his career, coming as a pinch-hitter. It was the seventh pinch-hit homer for the Cardinals this season … A throwing error helped the Cardinals score a run in the sixth. Their final run scored on back-to-back doubles by Jose Rondon and Paul Goldschmidt in the ninth, which turned out to be the winning run.
On the mound: After LeBlanc’s early exit, the Cardinals used T.J. McFarland, Andrew Miller, Luis Garcia, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes over the final seven innings. LeBlanc had given up a three-run homer to Colin Moran in the first, and he also homered off Miller leading off the fourth … Gallegos kept the Pirates from scoring despite giving up four hits to the eight hitters he faced in the seventh and eighth, stranding all four runners … Reyes gave up a two-run homer to Bryan Reynolds in the ninth following an error by Tommy Edman in right field, then struck out the final two hitters to earn his 27th save.
Key stat: DeJong has hit three of his 16 homers this season in six games at Pittsburgh and now has nine career homers in 34 games at PNC Park.
Worth noting: The Cardinals have now won 10 games in a row at PNC Park and are 20-2 there since August 2018 … When the Cardinals last were two games above .500 on June 16 their record was 35-33. They have not been three games above .500 since June 5.
Looking ahead: Jack Flaherty will come off the injured list to start Friday night in Kansas City, the opener of a three-game series against the Royals. Flaherty has been out since May 30, when he tore his oblique while batting in a game at Los Angeles.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains