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Volquez goes distance as Pirates roll to victory over Cardinals

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Thursday, July 10, 2014, 10:30 p.m.
 

ST. LOUIS — Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage usually writes up a detailed scouting report for each game and goes over it intently with that day's starter.

Thursday, however, Searage tried a different kind of pregame briefing when right-hander Edinson Volquez faced the St. Louis Cardinals for the fourth time this season.

“Ray came to me and said, ‘Go, pitch and win,' ” Volquez said. “That's all he said. I know those guys from St. Louis pretty well. So I just followed (catcher Russell) Martin, kept the ball down and went for it.”

It worked. Volquez tossed a six-hitter — his first complete game in almost two years — as the Pirates routed the Cardinals, 9-1.

Until Thursday, the Pirates had been one of four big league teams without a complete game this season.

Volquez had waited since July 19, 2012, when he did it for the San Diego Padres against the Houston Astros.

Volquez (8-6) was brilliant, scattering six singles. He walked one and struck out five to rack up his fourth consecutive win.

“I never lost my focus,” Volquez said. “After the fifth, I was like, ‘Let's go for it.' I kept pitching like it was 1-0.”

The Cardinals had just one runner reach second base from the fifth inning on. Volquez threw 114 pitches and took advantage of three double plays.

“One thing I've noticed about him,” manager Clint Hurdle said, “when it gets past the fifth, he smells the finish. It's not like he's looking to just give you six or seven. He's going to go until you take him out.”

The Pirates amassed 10 hits, half of them coming against right-hander Shelby Miller (7-8).

Martin had three hits, including a solo homer. Andrew McCutchen had two hits and scored twice. Neil Walker and Josh Harrison each hit a two-run double.

The Pirates' first four runs all came with two outs.

“The team that gets the most two-out hits is usually the team that wins,” Walker said. “We didn't really hit with runners in scoring position the first three games (of the series). Tonight, we took advantage of some mistakes and were able to play our game.”

The Pirates broke open the game with a three-run fifth inning. The big blow was an RBI single by McCutchen that made it 2-1.

Catcher Tony Cruz set up outside, but Miller's 95 mph fastball drifted over the middle of the plate at the top of the strike zone. McCutchen went up and got it, and lashed an opposite-field single.

With the Pirates up 4-1 in the sixth, things quickly went from sublime to ridiculous and back again.

Pedro Alvarez reached on an infield bouncer that reliever Tyler Lyons couldn't field cleanly. Jordy Mercer hit a comebacker, but Lyons threw it away at second, and both runners were safe on the error.

Volquez's bunt was grabbed by third baseman Matt Carpenter, who threw the ball to second ... to no one. Center fielder Jon Jay was backing up the play and was able to scoop the ball and run to the bag in time to force out Mercer.

A 5-8 fielder's choice putout at second base? Yep.

“I have never, ever seen that,” Hurdle said, grinning. “Maybe in a tee-ball game somewhere, but never at the major league level.”

Gregory Polanco walked, loading the bases. Harrison's double one-hopped the outfield wall to make it 6-1. Polanco scored on a passed ball, and Harrison came home on McCutchen's flyout to deep center.

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

AP - Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez delivers during the first inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez delivers during the first inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - Pirates catcher Russell Martin follows through on an RBI single during the first inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates catcher Russell Martin follows through on an RBI single during the first inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Cardinals' Kolten Wong scores on a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter as the throw gets away from Pirates catcher Russell Martin during the third inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Cardinals' Kolten Wong scores on a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter as the throw gets away from Pirates catcher Russell Martin during the third inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - Cardinals starter Shelby Miller delivers against the Pirates during the first inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Cardinals starter Shelby Miller delivers against the Pirates during the first inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Neil Walker watches his two-run double during the fifth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Neil Walker watches his two-run double during the fifth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - Cardinals right fielder Oscar Taveras can't reach a two-run double hit by the Pirates' Neil Walker during the fifth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Cardinals right fielder Oscar Taveras can't reach a two-run double hit by the Pirates' Neil Walker during the fifth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen is congratulated by teammates after scoring on two-run double by Neil Walker during the fifth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen is congratulated by teammates after scoring on two-run double by Neil Walker during the fifth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
Getty Images - Pirates left fielder Josh Harrison catches a fly ball in the first inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates left fielder Josh Harrison catches a fly ball in the first inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
Getty Images - The Cardinals' Matt Carpenter fields a ground ball in the fourth inning against the Pirates on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Cardinals' Matt Carpenter fields a ground ball in the fourth inning against the Pirates on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
Getty Images - Pirates starter Edinson Volquez pitches against the Cardinals in the third inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates starter Edinson Volquez pitches against the Cardinals in the third inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Gregory Polanco (left) scores on a passed ball as Cardinals reliever Tyler Lyons covers home during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Gregory Polanco (left) scores on a passed ball as Cardinals reliever Tyler Lyons covers home during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Josh Harrison (right) is congratulated by first-base coach Rick Sofield after hitting a ground-rule double to score two runs during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Josh Harrison (right) is congratulated by first-base coach Rick Sofield after hitting a ground-rule double to score two runs during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Josh Harrison hits a ground-rule double to score Edinson Volquez and Pedro Alvarez during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Josh Harrison hits a ground-rule double to score Edinson Volquez and Pedro Alvarez during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez scores past Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz on a ground-rule double by Josh Harrison during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez scores past Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz on a ground-rule double by Josh Harrison during the sixth inning Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis.
AP - Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (left) is congratulated by teammate Russell Martin after throwing a complete game against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis. The Pirates won 9-1.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates starting pitcher Edinson Volquez (left) is congratulated by teammate Russell Martin after throwing a complete game against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014, in St. Louis. The Pirates won 9-1.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits an RBI single in the fifth inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen hits an RBI single in the fifth inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Russell Martin rounds third base after homering in the ninth inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Russell Martin rounds third base after homering in the ninth inning against the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Neil Walker (18) and Gregory Polanco celebrate after beating the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014,
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Neil Walker (18) and Gregory Polanco celebrate after beating the Cardinals on Thursday, July 10, 2014,
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