Saturday’s Game Report: Pirates 6, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)

Saturday’s Game Report: Pirates 6, Cardinals 3 (10 innings)

By Rob Rains

For all of the discussion about poor performances from the Cardinals starting pitchers at the beginning of this season, they may have a bigger problem looming in their bullpen.

What are they going to do about Jordan Hicks?

Hicks has been ineffective in most of his seven appearances this  season and on Saturday served up a two-run homer to the first batter he faced, Andrew McCutchen, as the Pirates scored three runs in the 10th inning to beat the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Hicks has retired the first batter he has faced only twice in his seven games. Against McCutchen, he fell behind 3-0 and threw seven consecutive sliders before McCutchen hit the last one, with the count 3-2, into the seats in left field.

“He thought he had a pitch he was landing,” said manager Oli Marmol. “It ended up biting him.”

After a strikeout, Hicks allowed a triple and a single for another Pirates run before coming out of the game. His ERA rose to 12.71.

Marmol said the Cardinals were down to Hicks and Genesis Cabrera available to pitch the 10th inning because of having several relievers unavailable. Ryan Helsley was used in the eighth and ninth and Giovanny Gallegos, Drew VerHagen and Zack Thompson were not going to pitch on Saturday because of their usage in recent games, the manager said. Andre Pallante was dealing with arm fatigue and asked for an extra day off.

Here’s how Saturday’s game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals produced two of their three runs from the first five batters of the game. Donovan and Alec Burleson hit back-to-back doubles for the first run and Nolan Gorman later delivered a sacrifice fly … Burleson extended his hitting streak to 10 games … The Cardinals had only three more hits until the seventh, when Tommy Edman singled to help load the bases before Paul Goldschmidt drew a walk that put them in front 3-2 … In the 10th, a walk to Dylan Carlson brought the tying run to the plate with nobody out but Goldschmidt fouled out, Nolan Arenado struck out and Gorman lined to second to end the game … Arenado struck out four times for only the third time in his career, the other two coming when he was with the Rockies in 2015 and 2017 … Lars Nootbaar was activated from the injured list before the game and started in center field. He walked three times and struck out.

On the mound: Steven Matz tied his career high with five walks, three coming in the third inning that gave the Pirates their second run after he had allowed a home run to the first batter of the game, Ke’Bryan Hayes … The Pirates tied the game in the eighth when Connor Joe singled with two outs off Chris Stratton, then scored on a double by Rodolfo Castro off Helsley … Helsley also gave up a walk and single in the ninth but got a double play to get out of the inning … After retiring one of the four batters he faced, Hicks has allowed 19 baserunners in 5 2/3 innings out of 35 batters he has faced.

Key stat: The Cardinals were just 2-of-13 with runners in scoring position, with the two hits – the double by Burleson and an infield single by Goldschmidt – coming from their first three batters of the game. In the first three games of the series they are a combined 5-of-34 with a man on second or third in losing two of the three games.

Worth noting: Marmol was ejected in the middle of the third inning by home plate umpire Will Little, upset by ball-strike calls in the top of the inning. It was his fourth career ejection … With Nootbaar returning, Juan Yepez became the odd man out and was optioned back to Memphis. “We have a lot of depth at those positions,” Marmol said. “He’s in a good spot mentally. He understands the role at the moment.” … The Cardinals had stolen only six bases in their first 14 games before swiping four on Saturday, two by Donovan.

Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start on Sunday in the final game of the series.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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