Taillon returns from illness as Pirates continue series vs. Cardinals (Jul 15, 2017)

BY AP • July 15, 2017

PITTSBURGH -- There was understandably some concern Sunday right-hander Jameson Taillon was a last-minute scratch from his start in Chicago -- the Pittsburgh Pirates' final game before the All-Star break.

Thoughts turned to Taillon's recent battle with testicular cancer and an impressive layoff of just five weeks after surgery. Flu-like symptoms was the official explanation.

Taillon (5-2, 2.73 ERA), who is scheduled to start Saturday against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park, confirmed via Twitter and again Friday that the problem was food poisoning.

He told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he ordered a dinner delivery to his Chicago hotel room last Saturday night and then spent the evening "shuttling between my bed and the toilet."

He's fine now, evidenced by the fact that on Friday his next start was moved up to Saturday. During the break he was not scheduled to start until a series against Milwaukee that starts Monday.

Taillon likely will still face the Brewers Thursday.

Because of the illness and skipped start, he will pitch in a game Saturday for the first time since July 4, when he struck out a career-high nine in five scoreless innings in Pittsburgh's 3-0 win against Philadelphia.

Taillon doesn't expect the layoff to hurt.

He was among the Pirates starters who threw a bullpen session Thursday.

"It was the sharpest I think I've seen our guys, myself included," Taillon, who is 0-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two career starts against St. Louis -- told the Post-Gazette.

Pittsburgh (43-47) moved to within a half-game of third-place St. Louis in the National League Central with a 5-2 win in the series opener, courtesy of Josh Bell's walk-off three-run homer.

"That game was a bit of a roller coaster," Bell said. "Setting the standard the first game of this series and the first game of this homestand was big.

"Just one pitch at a time. It's fun when you put a team away like that going into the first pitch (Saturday). You have momentum and you start gaining strides. Hopefully, it works out that way."

If the Cardinals (43-46) hope to keep the Pirates behind them in the standings, it would help to get more offense.

Friday, St. Louis was held to six hits, although one of them was Jedd Gyorko's two-run homer in the first.

"Not a lot of opportunities after that," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We needed the big hit."

Right-hander Lance Lynn (7-6, 3.61 ERA) starts Saturday for the Cardinals. He is 6-6 with a 4.76 ERA in 19 career starts against the Pirates, 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA in two starts against them this season. That includes a loss June 24 when he gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 7-3 Pittsburgh win.

In his last start, a 6-0 win against the Mets, Lynn threw three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings in St. Louis' final game before the All-Star break.

And the win over the Mets occurred, he said, when he was far from his best.

"I actually felt terrible, but the results were good, so you can't beat it," Lynn told mlb.com.