Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

By Rob Rains

One of the storylines in this lost season for the Cardinals has been their futility to get a hit when they have the bases loaded.

In the first inning on Sunday at Busch Stadium, a single and back-to-back walks left the bases loaded with nobody out. Ten pitches later, the inning was over – without a run being scored – after a ground ball resulted in a force out at the plate, a popup and a foul out.

Luckily for the Cardinals, that wasn’t their only chance with the bases loaded against the Pirates, and hits by Nolan Gorman and Alec Burleson in those situations propelled the Cardinals to the win that prevented them being swept in the series.

Gorman came through with a two-out single in the second, and Burleson followed with a two-out single in the fourth, each driving in two runs.

Burleson actually got another at-bat with the bases loaded in the eighth and initially was awarded another hit, an infield single that scored two runs, but the call was overturned following a crew chief review, ending the inning.

The 2-of-6 day raised the Cardinals’ average with the bases loaded to .184, 21-of-114, still the worst average in the major leagues.

Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:

At the plate: Jordan Walker extended his hitting streak to six games with a home run, his 14th of the season, and a double. He is 12-of-21 during the six games, with three homers, and has raised his average for the season from .253 to .274 … The Cardinals were 3-of-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 runners on base.

On the mound: Zack Thompson worked seven innings, a career high, scattering seven hits and allowing three runs. He did not walk a batter and struck out six as he protected a 5-3 lead for his final three scoreless innings … Andre Pallante allowed a run in the eighth before Giovanny Gallegos worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save since Aug. 9 … Neither JoJo Romero or Ryan Helsley were available to pitch for the second consecutive game.

Key stat: There are only four teams in the majors with more at-bats with the bases loaded this season than the Cardinals – Tampa Bay, the Dodgers, Houston and Toronto. Those teams are a combined 88 games above .500.

Worth noting: Matthew Liberatore made a rehab start on Sunday for Memphis and needed 90 pitches to get through three innings. He allowed just three hits and two runs, only one earned, but walked five while striking out six. Manager Oli Marmol said before Sunday’s game that he wanted to see how Liberatore came through the start before deciding what will be next for him … As was likely going to be the case when Steven Matz suffered a lat injury a month ago, Marmol admitted the team is running out of time to try to get him ready to pitch again before the end of the season. Marmol said Matz’s status is still “week to week” … The win on Sunday prevented the Pirates from sweeping a series of at least three games in St. Louis for the first time since a four-game sweep in 1997.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals will be off on Labor Day for the first time (in a full season) since 1993. They will open a three-game series on Tuesday night in Atlanta that also begins a nine-game trip that includes three games in Cincinnati and three in Baltimore.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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