The St. Louis Cardinals, in a position where every game is huge as they chase a National League wild-card spot, proved Friday they can push aside any sort of hangover from a demoralizing loss.
The Cardinals have split the first two games of a four-game series against the also-ran Pirates in Pittsburgh even though things went way sour in the opener. The clubs meet again Saturday evening.
St. Louis blew a six-run lead and gave up eight runs in the seventh inning Thursday in an 11-7 loss. On Friday, St. Louis built a three-run lead before holding off the Pirates for a 4-3 win.
“Games like (Thursday) are going to happen. It wasn’t really on our minds,” said St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who finished a homer shy of hitting for the cycle Friday. “Just come out and play well.”
And impress their manager.
“We got punched pretty hard (Thursday) night, and we punched right back,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “I love this group, man. I say it all the time — it’s a tough group. It’s a group that’s resilient. It’s a wonderful team trait to be persistent, to keep your head up, to have fight to you.”
Pittsburgh has won five of its past eight games, but the loss Friday was the team’s 82nd, ensuring what was a foregone conclusion — that this will be a losing season.
The Pirates are still trying to be relevant.
“Continue to play well. Continue to get after it,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We’ve played well over the past eight, nine days against teams that are in playoff hunts. I don’t know if you want to use the term ‘spoiler’ or whatever, but we have the ability to impact some people’s season if we continue to play well and play hard.”
On Saturday, St. Louis right-hander Adam Wainwright (12-7, 3.10 ERA) is expected to start opposite Pittsburgh left-hander Steven Brault (0-2, 1.93).
It’s a rematch from Sunday in St. Louis.
In that game, a 3-0 Cardinals win, Wainwright was masterful in helping St. Louis avoid a sweep at the hands of the Pirates, pitching eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball with nine strikeouts and no walks.
That left Wainwright 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three starts this season against Pittsburgh. He carries a 19-inning scoreless streak against the Pirates into Saturday’s game.
The Cardinals honored Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson on Sunday, leading Shildt to make a flattering comparison.
“Wainwright is our (team’s) modern-day Gibson — which is saying something,” Shildt said.
For his career, Wainwright, who turns 40 Monday, is 20-7 with a 3.83 ERA in 46 games, 40 of them starts, against Pittsburgh.
“They beat me around pretty good early on in my career, so this is all just payback for them getting my career ERA over about a point higher than it should be,” Wainwright cracked.
Brault had a fairly successful, albeit short, outing on Sunday, giving up one run in four innings. It was his fourth start of the season after he missed much of the year because of a lat muscle injury.
The biggest problem for Brault hasn’t been his own doing. His teammates have provided four total runs of support over his four starts.
Against St. Louis, Brault is 1-4 with a 4.61 ERA in 14 career appearances (eight starts). He is 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA vs. the Cardinals in two starts this year.
–Field Level Media