Pirates can't make up for miscues from Cumpton in loss to Cards
ST. LOUIS — Brandon Cumpton made a spot start for the Pirates on Wednesday, trying to lend a hand after Gerrit Cole went on the disabled list.
Cumpton wasn't much help for the bullpen, however. The right-hander failed to make it out of the fourth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals eased to a 5-2 victory.
Before the game, Cumpton was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis. Cole will be out until at least July 20, perhaps longer, due to a sore back.
Cumpton (3-3) faced 21 batters and let 12 reach base. The right-hander worked 31⁄3 innings, allowed four runs and nine hits, walked three and struck out two.
“It's pretty disappointing, leaving the bullpen out there to dry,” Cumpton said. “They had to eat up a lot of innings.”
The Pirates used four relievers to cover the final 42⁄3 innings. Justin Wilson was scored upon for his second outing in a row, serving up a solo homer to Kolten Wong in the seventh inning.
By dropping the first three games of this road trip, the Pirates blew a chance to pull to within 11⁄2 games of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.
Instead, the Cardinals have surged into second place in the National League Central, two games back. The Pirates have tumbled into fourth place, 41⁄2 games behind.
Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn (10-6) went 62⁄3 innings, giving up two runs and six hits.
It was the first time Lynn beat the Pirates since April 26, 2013. In his previous four starts against them, which included a 7-1 loss in Game 2 of the NL Division Series, Lynn went 0-3 with a 9.15 ERA.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Matt Carpenter blooped a single into shallow left field. With one out, Matt Holliday walked. Matt Adams hit a two-run double to left-center.
Neil Walker homered to right leading off the second. It was his 12th home run and extended his hitting streak to 11 games.
Holliday's persistence gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead in the third. Holliday battled through an 11-pitch at-bat, fouling off five in row and drove a one-out single up the middle.
“It's real frustrating,” Cumpton said. “He's a great hitter. He had a good approach, stayed right back up the middle with me, put a good swing on it.”
Adam's single sent Holliday to third base. Jhonny Peralta lined an RBI double to left-center.
In the fourth, Walker was at third base with two outs when Jordy Mercer hit a grounder down the third base line. Carpenter made a diving stop — rolling his wrist in the process — but had no play at first base as Mercer reached on an infield single.
It took 22 innings and 18 at-bats, but the Pirates finally had their first hit with a runner in scoring position in the series.
Cumpton found more trouble in the bottom of the inning. He let the Cardinals load the bases without hitting the ball out of the infield. Lynn walked on five pitches, Carpenter bunted for a single, and Oscar Taveras singled.
“I can't walk the pitcher,” Cumpton said. “I walked three guys today, and two of them scored. If I don't walk those guys, we're in the ballgame.”
Holliday stroked a single to left to make the score 4-2. With the bases still loaded and one out, Cumpton was replaced by Ernesto Frieri.
It seemed an odd decision by manager Clint Hurdle. When hitters make contact on Frieri, it's a fly ball 60 percent of the time — and 30 percent of those flies have gone out of the park.
The night before, Frieri allowed Wong's walk-off homer. It was the sixth time in eight outings that Frieri had allowed a run.
It turned out Hurdle knew what he was doing. Frieri threw two pitches, got two routine outs and the inning was over without another run scoring.
“After (Tuesday) night, I felt compelled to get him up, get him in there and see what he could give us,” Hurdle said.
“He responded really well. It definitely gave him a shot in the arm.”
The Pirates missed a chance to get something going in the seventh. Ike Davis doubled off the center-field wall.
Chris Stewart popped up a bunt and was safe at first base when Lynn stumbled and fell while lunging for the ball.
But pinch-hitter Matt Hague, who was called up before the game to replace Starling Marte (bereavement leave, grounded into a double play on the first pitch.
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
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