Sunday’s Game Report: Pirates 9, Cardinals 4

Sunday’s Game Report: Pirates 9, Cardinals 4

By Rob Rains

For the first two innings on Sunday, Steven Matz’s debut with the Cardinals was going about as well as he could have hoped.

He had retired six of the first seven hitters he faced, his teammates had staked him to a 3-0 lead and it appeared he was headed for a good day and the Cardinals to a third consecutive win over the Pirates.

All that changed in a hurry, however. Matz retired only three of the next 12 Pittsburgh hitters and left the mound with no outs in the fourth trailing 6-3.

The big blow was a grand slam by Michael Chavis, the third Matz has allowed in his career, and one of six hits he allowed in the inning that sent the Pirates to the win at Busch Stadium.

“I felt really good out of the gate and had a lot of confidence,” Matz said. “It’s pretty frustrating to kind of unravel. I’ve just got to make some better pitches when it counts.”

An inherited runner scored on a wild pitch, saddling Matz with a final pitching line of three innings, nine hits and seven runs.

“They were aggressive and that inning when it got away from him a little bit there were three or four first-pitch hits,” said bench coach Skip Schumaker, the day’s acting manager. “After the first couple of innings we felt he looked good.

“Balls fell. They did a really good job of being aggressive early on and that’s kind of just what happened.”

Here’s how Sunday’s game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals scored their first three runs in the first inning. For the third game in a row, Dylan Carlson led off with a hit, this time a double, and following a single by Paul Goldschmidt, scored on a sacrifice fly by Tyler O’Neill … Carlson is the first leadoff hitter for the Cardinals to get a hit in the first inning of the first three games of the season since Royce Clayton did it in the first four games in 1998 … Nolan Arenado provided the next two runs with a home run, his second of the season, that gave him  six hits in six consecutive at-bats over the three games, two homers, three doubles and a single … The Cardinals were held to just one hit after the first, a single by Carlson in the second, before Harrison Bader doubled with one out in the seventh. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlson.

On the mound: Jake Woodford relieved Matz with runners on first and second and got a double play, but then let in a run on a wild pitch. He allowed two hits over his three innings of work … Andre Pallante made his major-league debut in the seventh and gave up a run on two singles and a walk …Aaron Brooks pitched the last two innings, allowing the final Pirates run.

Key stat: This is the first time the Cardinals have scored at least one run in the first inning in the first three games of the season since 1977, when they also were playing the Pirates.

Worth noting: Manager Oli Marmol missed his second consecutive game because of the flu. He told Schumaker he was feeling better and hoped he can return to the ballpark for Monday’s game… Chavis’ grand slam was the first by a Pirate in St. Louis since Pedro Alvarez hit one off Lance Lynn on June 30, 2012 … Jordan Walker hit his first home run for Double A Springfield on Sunday… Nolan Gorman hit his first two homers of the year for Memphis… Righthander Michael McGreevy, the Cardinals’ top pick in the 2021 draft, made his season debut for high A Peoria on Saturday with five no-hit innings, walking one and striking out five.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals and Pirates are scheduled to conclude the four-game series with a 1:15 p.m. game on Monday but rain is in the forecast. Dakota Hudson is the scheduled starter.

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.