TribLIVE

| Sports


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pirates take series from Cardinals, give Hurdle 700th career win

AP - The Pirates' Russell Martin (right) is congratulated by teammate John McDonald after hitting a solo home run during the second inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Russell Martin (right) is congratulated by teammate John McDonald after hitting a solo home run during the second inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Russell Martin signals to the dugout after hitting a double during the fourth inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Russell Martin signals to the dugout after hitting a double during the fourth inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
AP - The Pirates' Brandon Inge scores ahead of the tag from Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the sixth inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Brandon Inge scores ahead of the tag from Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the sixth inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
AP - Pirates starter Jeff Locke delivers during the first inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates starter Jeff Locke delivers during the first inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
AP - Cardinals right fielder Shane Robinson can't reach a homer hit by the Pirates' Garrett Jones during the seventh inning Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Cardinals right fielder Shane Robinson can't reach a homer hit by the Pirates' Garrett Jones during the seventh inning Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata holds up as he rounds third base during the third inning against the Cardinals on April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata holds up as he rounds third base during the third inning against the Cardinals on April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - The Pirates' John McDonald dodges an inside pitch from Cardinals starter Shelby Miller on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' John McDonald dodges an inside pitch from Cardinals starter Shelby Miller on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Russell Martin homers off the Cardinals' Shelby Miller during the second inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Russell Martin homers off the Cardinals' Shelby Miller during the second inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
Getty Images - Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson attempts to catch a homer hit by the Pirates' Russell Martin during the second inning Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson attempts to catch a homer hit by the Pirates' Russell Martin during the second inning Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke delivers against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke delivers against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - Pirates shortstop John McDonald throws a runner out at first base against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates shortstop John McDonald throws a runner out at first base against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - Pirates catcher Russell Martin throws a runner out against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates catcher Russell Martin throws a runner out against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
AP - The Pirates' Jose Tabata rounds the bases after homering during the fifth inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, against the Cardinals.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>The Pirates' Jose Tabata rounds the bases after homering during the fifth inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, against the Cardinals.
Getty Images - Pirates shortstop John McDonald throws to second base for an out against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates shortstop John McDonald throws to second base for an out against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez fields a ground ball against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez fields a ground ball against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
AP - Pirates catcher Russell Martin watches his two-run homer during the ninth inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>AP</em></div>Pirates catcher Russell Martin watches his two-run homer during the ninth inning against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - The Pirates' Brandon Inge scores a run past Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the the sixth inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>The Pirates' Brandon Inge scores a run past Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina during the the sixth inning Sunday, April 28, 2013, in St. Louis.
Getty Images - Pirates reliever Justin Wilson pitches against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Pirates reliever Justin Wilson pitches against the Cardinals on Sunday, April 28, 2013.
Getty Images - Crew chief Mike Winters signals for a home run after reviewing a ball hit by the Pirates' Garrett Jones during the seventh inning Sunday. April 28, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Getty Images</em></div>Crew chief Mike Winters signals for a home run after reviewing a ball hit by the Pirates' Garrett Jones during the seventh inning Sunday. April 28, 2013.

Pirates/MLB Videos

Sunday, April 28, 2013, 5:27 p.m.
 

ST. LOUIS — This could have been the month that sank the Pirates' season before it even had a chance to get rolling.

Andrew McCutchen is in arguably the worst funk of his career. The starting rotation has been erratic. Neil Walker and Travis Snider are injured. Jonathan Sanchez has more suspensions than quality starts. The schedule has been loaded with land mines against playoff teams and challenging road trips.

Bring it on, April.

After a 9-0 rout of the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, the Pirates sit atop the NL Central. They've won 15 games in April for the first time since 1992.

At this point, there doesn't seem to be anything they can't handle.

“There are so many dynamics going on with this club right now,” infielder John McDonald said. “No one's thinking ahead to tomorrow. It's a good mentality to have.”

In the opener of this three-game set, Sanchez left without retiring a batter, and Walker left with a bloody right hand. Two days later, the Pirates pulled off an impressive series win and made Clint Hurdle the 11th active manager to reach 700 victories.

“The toughest inning we had here was the first on Friday night,” Hurdle said. “We've played well here. I'm just glad we didn't play 19 innings.”

Last season, the Pirates won a 19-inning game Aug. 19 at Busch Stadium, but then began a free-fall that snuffed their bid for a winning season.

There is still too much season left to say how things will go this year. But Sunday showed what it can be like when everything clicks.

“This helps us believe we have the team we think we have,” catcher Russell Martin said. “We have power. We play good defense. The key is to be consistent, and we've been doing it every day.”

Even with McCutchen, who's hitting .216, getting a day off, the Pirates still flashed power. Martin notched his seventh two-homer game. Jose Tabata and Garrett Jones each added a solo shot.

Lefty Jeff Locke and reliever Justin Wilson combined to produce the Pirates' fifth shutout, which is tied for the NL lead.

“I always want to get my pitcher locked in,” Martin said. “What makes a difference between a good team and a contending team is your ability to pitch. Anything I can do offensively is a plus.”

Locke (3-1) worked seven innings, the first time in 15 big league starts he's gotten that far. He's riding a streak of 13 scoreless innings that began with his previous outing against the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Confidence and execution,” Locke said. “A lot of sinkers today, trying to keep them off balance.”

Martin hit a solo shot off righty Shelby Miller (2-2) and a two-run blast off reliever Marc Rzepczynski. Martin also doubled and raised his batting average to .267.

Over his past 12 games, Martin is batting .409 (18 for 44) — quite a turnaround from the way his season began. Martin went hitless in his first 17 at-bats and his average didn't climb above .200 until April 21.

“It's just the way baseball is,” Martin said. “But it's nice when hard work pays off. It's nice when you make adjustments and see results.”

Jones' homer originally was ruled a ball in play, and he stopped at third base. That call was overturned by a replay review, snapping a run of 49 homerless at-bats for Jones.

“I couldn't really tell if it went out,” Jones said. “I'm usually good for one or two triples a year. So if they hadn't (reversed the call), that would've been my triple.”

Jones walked in his final at-bat and wound up a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

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

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Agent: Polamalu undecided whether to play in 2015
  2. Loose barges on the Mon highlight woes of winter’s end
  3. Police investigate fatal shooting in West Mifflin
  4. Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.
  5. Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
  6. 14 more arrested in connection with drug trafficking ring
  7. Angry fans cited in shortage of refs in Western Pennsylvania
  8. Springdale Twp. police car crashes into veterinary clinic
  9. Wolf’s Pa. budget plan seen as having almost no chance
  10. Mt. Lebanon deer-culling corrals sprayed with urine, repellent
  11. Dan Stevens cast as Beast opposite Watson’s Beauty