St. Louis makes most of limited opportunities on offense to top Pirates
By Joe Harris
Special to MLB.com |
ST. LOUIS -- Even though the Pirates had the majority of the scoring opportunities during Saturday's game at Busch Stadium, there was confidence in the Cardinals' dugout that somehow the Redbirds would find a way to win.
The Cardinals overcame five no-hit innings from Francisco Liriano, scratched across the tying run in the sixth and pulled ahead in the 11th for their second consecutive 2-1, extra-inning win against the Pirates.
"We've got a real good team," said third baseman Matt Carpenter, who hit a walk-off sacrifice fly. "We're just balanced. We've got guys in every spot that can do some great things. … We've got every piece. Those guys are doing a great job playing their roles and we're going to find a way to play good baseball."
The rally started after it seemed the game was destined for the 12th inning.
Peter Bourjos led off the inning with a double, but he was caught stealing third for the first out. Pete Kozma, who originally tried sacrificing Bourjos to third, then singled to left and moved to third on a Jon Jay single, bringing up Carpenter to end it.
"We saw an opportunity maybe, and it didn't play out," Matheny said of Bourjos' caught stealing. "It's nice when you see players even pick up staff and coaches, and that's a position you could feel the air let out of the whole stadium when that happened, and mine included.
"Pete comes up and then gets a big hit, and Jon Jay the same. We've got to keep doing that. Just next man up, somebody else has to pick someone up when they don't get the job done."
While he has been one of the league's top hitters in the first month of the season, the sacrifice fly from Carpenter was anything but a given against Pirates reliever Jared Hughes, who is known for his power sinker.
"Got the infield in, you've got a guy with a really high ground-ball rate on the mound, you've got to get the ball in the air," Carpenter said. "I was able to do that."
The Cardinals scratched out just six hits, but they were able to group two in a row to set up the tying run in the sixth, and they strung three straight in the 11th before Carpenter's sac fly.
While the Cardinals had trouble generating any offense, the Pirates stranded 18 baserunners.
"Everything is working right now," Kozma said. "Everybody is doing their job. The pitchers are doing their job, the bullpen, the starters, everybody. Guys are coming off the bench, and everybody who came off the bench today got a hit. Just doing things right."
The Cardinals now have three straight walk-off wins against the Bucs dating back to last year, and Carpenter expects more of the same in the series finale.
"We know that's a good club over there, they'll be able to rebound and come back for us again tomorrow," Carpenter said. "Tomorrow will be another tough game, but it's certainly better to be on the winning side for sure."
Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.