Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 5, Pirates 4
By Rob Rains
Matthew Liberatore was one out away from putting himself in line for the win in his major-league debut with the Cardinals on Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
He couldn’t get that final out.
After retiring the first two batters in the fifth inning, Liberatore gave up a single and a two-run inside-the-park homer to Bryan Reynolds that cut the Cardinals’ lead to 5-4. A double and walk followed, putting the tying and go-ahead runs on base and knocking Liberatore out of the game.
Drew VerHagen got out of the inning, and the bullpen shut out the Pirates the rest of the way to secure their second consecutive win.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals gave Liberatore a 4-0 lead in the second inning , thanks in part to an error on what could have been a double play ball hit by Yadier Molina. Paul Goldschmidt had the big hit in the inning, a two-run single. Goldschmidt had four hits in the game, including two more doubles, as he raised his average to .342 … Goldschmit has a 14-game hitting streak and has reached base by either a hit or walk in his last 28 games … Nolan Gorman did not start put came in the game in the fourth inning and recorded his first extra-base hit, a double, in the fifth. That was the Cardinals’ last hit until Tommy Edman singled with out in the ninth … Albert Pujols was 0-of-5 and struck three times, dropping his average to .210.
On the mound: Liberatore worked a 1-2-3 first inning before giving up two runs in the second. He pitched around a double in the third and a single in the fourth, but couldn’t get through the fifth inning that could have made him the first lefthander to win his first career start for the Cardinals since Tyler Lyons in 2013. Liberatore allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out three in his 88-pitch outing … VerHagen was credited with the win, getting out of the fifth and allowing only one baserunner over the next two innings … Andre Pallante worked a 1-2-3 eighth before Ryan Helsley earned the save with a perfect ninth inning.
Key stat: Nolan Arenado was hitless in five at-bats, striking out twice, and is just 2-of-22 on the current road trip, with one homer and two RBIs. He is just 14-of-75 so far in May, a .187 average, in 20 games after hitting .375 in April.
Worth noting: Harrison Bader was in the original lineup but was scratched about an hour before the game because he was feeling “lightheaded” but he was able to come into the game for defense in the eighth inning … Dylan Carlson had to come out of the game in the fourth because of left hamstring tightness, forcing Edman to play center field for the first time this season … The two doubles by Goldschmidt gave him 12 for the month, equaling the most he has hit in any month in his career. He also had 12 in April of 2014 … To make room for Liberatore on the active roster, reliever Jake Walsh was optioned to Memphis. To open a 40-man spot, Memphis pitcher T.J. Zeuch was designated for assignment.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals will try to complete the series sweep on Sunday with Steven Matz getting the start. The game is being broadcase by the Peacock Network and has the unusual starting time of 10:35 a.m. St. Louis time.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains