Pirates drop 5th straight with rain-delayed loss to Cardinals
Among the 19 pitches Joaquin Benoit threw was a 94 mph fastball that hit a Cardinals batter.
Then they hit him hard.
Asked to protect a one-run lead, the 40-year-old reliever allowed a two-run, seventh-inning triple by Dexter Fowler in Thursday night's 11-7 loss at rainy PNC Park. Benoit saw the first batter fly out but then the next four reached base.
The right-hander allowed three run on three hits as the Pirates' losing streak reached five. Benoit (1-6) has surrendered runs in four of his six relief appearances since the Pirates acquired him from the Phillies at the trade deadline.
His ERA is now 4.94.
“When you're the manager and you make moves to give up runs, it's always going to fall my shoulders,” Clint Hurdle said. “But, no, I don't second-guess the decision whatsoever. Benoit was a guy that's been doing it for a long time.”
This was the opener of a four-game series with the third-place Cardinals, who now lead the Pirates by four games.
Rain twice delayed a game that lasted three hours, 36 minutes. First pitch was pushed back 20 minutes, and later the teams endured a one-hour, 12-minute delay after the fifth inning.
The second delay chased Pirates starter Jameson Taillon, who'd allowed four runs on seven hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Taillon left with a 5-4 lead after 85 pitches.
Consecutive one-out walks in the rain caused Taillon trouble in the fifth as the Cardinals scored twice. Two-out RBI singles by DeJong and Fowler scored Matt Carpenter and Pham, the two Cardinals who drew the walks.
“You kind of blink, and you give up four,” Taillon said. “It's extra frustrating because I felt good. It's not like I was grinding or anything. It felt like it was probably some of the best stuff I've had all year. A couple of pitches here, a couple of really, really untimely walks. ”
After the rain, Hurdle turned to the bullpen. A.J. Schugel pitched a scoreless sixth before Benoit was picked to start the seventh.
Asked whether Juan Nicasio or Daniel Hudson was considered instead, Hurdle said no. George Kontos was unavailable after a 27-pitch outing Wednesday in Milwaukee.
“We could have pitched Rivero then, yeah, when you get to it,” said Hurdle, who noted that Hudson had command issues on the recent road trip.
“When things don't go well, yeah, there are a lot of things you can think about trying to do,” Hurdle added. “You get outside of yourself. Nicasio, to pitch him to start the seventh inning is a little bit too early. He's also second in the league in appearances.”
Against Benoit, Tommy Pham hit a one-out single to right. Paul DeJong was hit by a pitch, and Fowler tripled to right. An elevated fastball caused Yadier Molina to hit the dirt, but the catcher dusted himself off and drove an RBI single to center that chased Benoit after just one out.
Hudson earned the final two outs in the seventh.
Pham, who went 2 for 4 with three runs scored, added a 440-foot solo homer off Wade LeBlanc in the ninth. Kolton Wong later added a two-run single off LeBlanc.
Each team had 15 hits and combined to use 11 pitchers. St. Louis reliever Sam Tuivailala (3-1) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win.
The Pirates had built a 5-1 lead against Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who exited after just three innings. The veteran right-hander has troubled the Pirates many times, but this outing unraveled quickly. Two batters in, Josh Harrison dropped a two-run homer into the left-field seats off Wainwright, who was bothered by arm soreness and decreased velocity in his last outing.
“It's definitely a different look, especially for guys that have faced him in years past,” Harrison said. “You're used to seeing the ball come out of his hand a certain way, and today was a little different.”
Josh Bell, David Freese and Adam Frazier hit consecutive RBI singles in the third, Wainwright's last inning. He allowed seven of the Pirates' 15 hits.
Harrison led the Pirates with three hits, three runs and two RBIs. His first-inning blast came followed a leadoff single by Starling Marte. Harrison drove a 65 mph Wainwright curveball into the leftfield bleachers for his 13th home run.
In the third, a two-out single by Harrison sparked the Pirates' three-run rally. After Andrew McCutchen walked, Bell, Freese and Frazier hit consecutive singles to lead 5-1.
Freese added an RBI double in the ninth.
Jedd Gyorko scored the Cardinals' first run with a second-inning home run to left. Their second came on Wong's RBI single in the fourth.