Caminero runs into rare trouble, gives up key HR in 7th

Righty allows inherited runners to score for first time this season

Caminero runs into rare trouble, gives up key HR in 7th

PITTSBURGH -- One early conclusion that can definitely be drawn about the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals: They will not let you get away with any mistakes. By most accounts, Francisco Liriano pitched a formidable game against them Friday night at PNC Park. He struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings, so his 98 pitches included only two that were errant.

Those two ended up over the fence -- a solo shot by Jhonny Peralta and a three-run job by Matt Holliday -- for the first four runs of the Bucs' 8-5 loss.

The last three runs -- the margin in the final score -- came in the seventh inning, arguably the new tipping point in any modern baseball game left in the care of the bullpen.

Arquimedes Caminero entered with the Pirates trailing, 5-3, and a man on, surrendered a double to Peter Bourjos, and then a three-run homer to Kolten Wong -- baseball's hottest hitter this side of Dee Gordon

"I threw him the pitch I wanted to throw, but wanted to get it more in," Caminero said. "It's a battle. He won that one."

"Caminero didn't get the spot on Bourjos that he needed, right-on-right," manager Clint Hurdle said, "and to Wong, missed that spot as well."

Caminero fans Holliday

Liriano, summing up the damage against him: "I hung a couple of pitches. They don't let you get away with any mistakes. Caminero missed his spot [to Wong]. I did, too. I wanted to go away [to Holliday], and threw it down the middle."

So, four mistakes equals eight runs. Tough league.

The seventh has become so critical in the modern game, because quality starters go six and the eighth belongs to the primary setup guy, who hands off to the closer. So the seventh is that treacherous bridge, and misfires like the one on Friday night might make fans pine for John Holdzkom.

That calls for a timeout: Holdzkom, the Independent League refuge sensation of last fall, has a 5.56 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis, where 13 walks in 11 1/3 innings suggest his old control problems have resurfaced.

Besides, Caminero has excelled in the role, having stranded all five inherited runners prior to Friday night's glitch.

"It's baseball," he said, quoting both a cliche and a truism. "Sometimes you miss your spot, and it hurts you. That wasn't a bad pitch, just in a bad spot."

Touching all the bases

• First: Charlie Morton's first rehab outing with Double-A Altoona was nothing short of brilliant: The veteran righty went seven shutout innings Friday night in Harrisburg, allowing two hits, two walks, striking out five and throwing 58 of 84 pitches in the strike zone.

• Second: The early gap between the clubs (the Pirates now trail the Cards by nine games in the standings) is reflected by the teams' respective records within the division. St. Louis is 17-5 vs. NL Central teams, the Bucs 9-14.

• Third: Liriano gave up two homers at home for only the second time (May 20, 2014, to the Orioles).

• Home: Mark Melancon has gone nearly two weeks since his last save opportunity, on April 25 in Arizona.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.