Cardinals punchless again in 7-1 loss to Pirates
Lance Lynn can’t get anybody out. St. Louis can’t score any
runs. And with a month to go in an increasingly unpredictable
season, the Cardinals find themselves trailing the Pittsburgh
Pirates in the NL Central.
Pittsburgh ace A.J. Burnett held the punchless Cardinals to four
hits over seven innings and the Pirates rolled to a 7-1 victory
Saturday night to move back in front of the tightest division race
Lynn (13-9) gave up seven runs and 10 hits in four erratic
innings to lose his fourth straight decision.
”I’ve got to do better than I did tonight,” he said. ”It was
unacceptable. I didn’t get the job done. I’ve got to make better
pitches in big situations and not let the big innings happen. I’ve
just got to get better and I will.”
Lynn received little help from the typically potent St. Louis
offense. The Cardinals have scored just one run during their
three-game losing streak.
”We’ve had a few balls hit hard, but not a lot,” manager Mike
Matheny said. ”I like what our offense has done over the majority
of the season. You don’t want to take a couple of games and start
making conclusions. We’re just going to keep going about it.”
The Cardinals still lead the National League in batting average
and runs but are 5-10 against the Pirates this season. Pittsburgh
received another jolt early Saturday afternoon when first baseman
Justin Morneau was acquired from the Minnesota Twins.
Matheny and Lynn both believe the current slide is nothing more
than a hiccup.
”I’m not happy with way I’m throwing the ball, but I’m going to
fix it and I’m looking forward to the next month because it’s going
to be better,” Lynn said.
It can’t get much worse for Lynn after the Pirates jumped on him
Pittsburgh went in front 2-0 in the second inning on RBI singles
by Burnett and Jose Tabata. Marlon Byrd drove in Pedro Alvarez to
spark the third, and Russell Martin followed with a three-run homer
to give Burnett all the support he needed.
”You could really feel the momentum shift there,” Matheny
said. ”You don’t want that to happen. You want your team to keep
grinding, but you could feel things shift. Our guys kept fighting
and our bullpen did a great job of holding them, but we never got
Burnett’s command had something to do with it. Mixing in a newly
mastered changeup, Burnett (7-9) struck out six and walked one as
the Pirates improved to 79-56 and moved within three victories of
their first winning season since 1992.
”It’s a great feat,” Burnett said. ”It’s been a long time,
but our goals have been higher than that.”
That’s certainly evident after the Pirates put together their
second big trade in five days. Pittsburgh brought in Marlon Byrd
and John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday.
Byrd homered in his Pirates debut on Wednesday. Morneau won’t
get a chance until Sunday at the earliest. Manager Clint Hurdle
hoped Morneau would be available on Saturday night if needed.
Instead, the Pirates were already up by six runs when Morneau
popped into the dugout. He spent the next hour joking around with
his new teammates.
”You try to get here as quick as you can because you want to be
a part of this,” Morneau said.
Important baseball as the calendar flips to September is an
annual rite of summer in St. Louis, but the pitching staff has
begun to fray after five months of dominance.
Lynn appeared on his way to a career year after winning his 13th
game of the season in a romp over Cincinnati four weeks ago. His
ERA over his last four starts is 7.66.
Pittsburgh ranks 10th in the NL in runs scored, one of the main
reasons general manager Neal Huntington aggressively pursued
Morneau. But the Pirates are averaging 5.2 runs per game during
their current six-game homestand, and Morneau’s addition gives
Pittsburgh another proven bat to join MVP contender Andrew
McCutchen and slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez.
NOTES: Reliever John Axford, acquired on Friday from Milwaukee,
pitched a perfect seventh in his Cardinals debut. … The Pirates
have outhomered St. Louis 18-3 in 15 meetings this season. … St.
Louis SS Pete Kozma grounded out while pinch-hitting for Lynn and
is hitless in his last 29 at-bats. … The series concludes Sunday.
Joe Kelly (6-3, 2.91 ERA) starts for St. Louis against Kris Johnson
(0-1, 3.00). … The Cardinals have not settled on a starter for
Tuesday in Cincinnati. Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Tyler
Lyons are all under consideration.
Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP