Despite Tuesday's loss, Pirates' 9th-inning meltdowns rare
ST. LOUIS — Tuesday's 14-inning, 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was full of the unexpected, not the least of which was the Pirates losing a game when leading after eight innings.
It was just the second time it has happened this season (58-2), and the third dating to the beginning of the 2012 season (129-3). It also was the first time this season that the Cardinals came back to win after trailing by more than two runs.
The Pirates' bullpen was charged with its first ninth-inning blown save since June 19 at Cincinnati. The event that precipitated the loss was left fielder Starling Marte dropping a routine fly ball. The miscue put Daniel Descalso in scoring position with one out, and he later scored to tie the game.
It was Marte's sixth error of the season, which leads major league left fielders.
After the game, Marte said his left hand felt fine in his first game after being hit by a pitch Saturday, but added that perhaps he was too overconfident as he ran in to make what should have been the second-to-last out of the ballgame.
“He said he feels bad because it feels like it cost us the game, and he doesn't want that to happen to anyone but it happened to him,” bullpen catcher and translator Heberto Andrade said. “It was a hard part of his game (Tuesday), but he's ready to move on.”
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen said it happens to the best of them.
“You hate that it happens to anyone on our team,” he said. “It's just one of those things. You have to shake it off, be ready to hit, maybe get your opportunity or chance and go from there to erase it. We've all been there. I've been there. I've missed balls that I should have caught. You hate that it was in that situation, but you have to shake it off, get ready for (Wednesday).”
The Pirates had their best chance to win in extra innings. McCutchen led off the 13th with a single, went to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on Pedro Alvarez's single. McCutchen stayed on third instead of breaking for the plate when Russell Martin grounded out to short, which manager Clint Hurdle said was what they wanted.
“There's no outs, and it's first and third,” Hurdle said. “If you go contact right there and the ball's hit right at an infielder, you're going to be first and second with one out and the double play's in order. If a line drive's hit at somebody, it's at least a double play if not a triple play. So three things can happen; two of them are bad. We're just counting on our hitter to hopefully get a ball in the outfield, a sacrifice fly.”
It didn't happen. Cardinals pitcher Seth Maness intentionally walked Clint Barmes to load the bases. Josh Harrison grounded into a double play.
The loss was the Pirates' fourth in a row, matching a season high. They entered Wednesday's game leading the Cardinals by two games in the NL Central.
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