Pirates fall to Cardinals on Adams' walk-off homer

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, July 7, 2014, 11:59 p.m.

ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday to lift the St. Louis Cardinals to a 2-0 victory against the Pirates.

Matt Carpenter started the inning by drawing a four-pitch walk off Justin Wilson. With one out, Adams, a Slippery Rock product, launched an 0-1 pitch into the right-field seats.

The 398-foot shot was Adams' first walkoff home run. It was the first home run allowed by Wilson since July 21, 2013.

“Bad pitch, good hitting,” Wilson said. “Probably the worst time to hang a breaking ball.”

The Cardinals managed only two hits over the first eight innings against starter Charlie Morton and reliever Tony Watson.

The Pirates went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 baserunners.

“We did everything we wanted to on offense except score,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Morton was brilliant, allowing one hit in seven innings but was stuck with a no-decision. It was the first time he pitched at least seven shutout innings since Sept. 23, 2013, the night the Pirates clinched their playoff berth with a win over the Chicago Cubs.

“It was fun to watch him work,” Hurdle said. “Charlie had nasty stuff. It was all about the sinker.”

Morton walked two and struck out five. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of 24 batters.

“I got a lot of ground balls early on,” Morton said. “That gave me confidence that if I kept the ball down, I'd get good results with my sinker.”

With the bases loaded and two out in the seventh, Morton was replaced by pinch hitter Gregory Polanco. Left-handed reliever Sam Freeman struck out Polanco swinging at a slider.

“I thought (Polanco) was a viable option to make something happen — work a walk or put a ball in play that finds a hole,” Hurdle said.

In his previous nine starts against the Cardinals, Morton was 0-7 with a 5.91 ERA. He has not beaten them since April 4, 2011.

“I just go out there and try to execute pitches,” Morton said. “I really don't pay attention to past success or failure.”

The start was delayed 47 minutes while officials waited to see if a passing storm cell would soak the field. It stayed dry.

With two on and two out in the top of the first, Russell Martin and Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright dueled for 10 pitches. Martin finally hit a flyout to left field, and almost instantly, rain began to fall. The tarp came out again.

After 11 minutes, Morton was able to take the mound. Before he threw a pitch, however, it poured again. This time, nobody left the field, and the game went on.

“It was a little weird tonight,” Morton said.

Morton gave up a two-out double in the first when Adams beat the Pirates' defensive shift and dumped a fastball into left field. It was the only hit Morton allowed.

Carpenter walked in the third and sixth but was erased on a grounder each time. Jon Jay was hit by a pitch in the fifth but never moved off first base.

Wainwright gave up at least one hit in six of the seven innings he pitched but got out of every jam.

The Pirates put their first two batters on base in the second inning, but Jordy Mercer choked off the rally by grounding into a double play. Josh Harrison singled to start the third, but Andrew McCutchen rolled into a double play.

In the fourth, singles by Neil Walker and Ike Davis put runners on the corners with one out. Pedro Alvarez struck out swinging at a couple of curveballs out of the strike zone. Mercer popped out.

Starling Marte lashed a stand-up triple with two outs in the fifth. Right fielder Allen Craig helped Marte by taking a so-so route to the ball, then heaving it to no one in particular in the infield.

Wainwright went at McCutchen curve, sinker, curve and was rewarded with a groundout.

After six innings, Wainwright was up to 102 pitches. His time was running short.

There was a lot of intrigue packed into Wainwright's 10-pitch seventh inning. Mercer hit a leadoff single. Morton hacked at the first pitch and popped out to second base.

With two outs, Marte was plunked between the shoulder blades. Athletic trainer Todd Tomczyk went out to check on Marte, who stayed in the game.

That brought up McCutchen, who last week batted 11 for 24 with two doubles, two triples, one homer and six RBIs. Time for some MVP magic?

Nope. McCutchen took a ball, then flew out weakly to right. It was Wainwright's last pitch of the game.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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