ST. LOUIS – Tyler Lyons had one bad inning on the mound for the Cardinals Saturday afternoon, but it was enough to take the loss as the Pirates beat St. Louis 6-1 in front of 46,254 fans at Busch Stadium to even the three-game series at one win apiece.
“The one inning obviously changes the whole day,” Lyons said. “With the exception of one inning, everything went pretty well, but that one inning, it’s a killer.”
Lyons (0-2) pitched six innings for the Cardinals and set the Pirates down in order five times. Unfortunately for Lyons, the one inning he didn’t, cost him.
“Tyler had a rough way to go in the fourth,” Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny said. “He had a pretty good outing if it wasn’t for that fourth inning.”
After retiring the first nine batters he faced on 26 total pitches, Lyons had trouble in the fourth. Lyons more than doubled his pitch count for the game as he threw 30 pitches in the fourth and allowed four runs.
“Up until (the fourth), he was extremely sharp,” Matheny said. “He came back and gave up the leadoff walk and those typically give us trouble. Overall he had good stuff, he just got into trouble with the wrong part of the lineup.”
It started with a walk to Starling Marte and then a single to Josh Harrison. Marte scored on Andrew McCutchen’s RBI single before Gaby Sanchez doubled home Harrison and McCutchen. Sanchez advanced to third on the throw home to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead. Following a groundout, Sanchez scored the Pirates (10-15) fourth run of the inning on Jose Tabata’s single.
“When you walk the leadoff hitter that kind of starts something like that,” Lyons said. “I think the ball (to Sanchez) was most likely up a little bit, elevated, and he got a good swing on it. Some of the other guys, I was just trying to get ground balls and I couldn’t get them hit at anybody.”
When Lyons was lifted for pinch hitter Jon Jay in the bottom of the sixth, he had retired the final eight batters he faced. For the day, Lyon struck out four and walked one while allowing four hits and all four runs on 75 pitches.
“I felt fine,” Lyons said. “I kind of slowed things down again and I was able to make some pitches and get some outs. That is what you have to do after a bad inning.”
While Lyons calmed down and settled back into a groove, the Cardinals’ offense was unable to muster up much of anything to counter the damage that was done.
While the fans have voiced their concern and worry about the Cardinals’ lack of offense, the Redbirds themselves have become frustrated as of late.
“It is frustrating for everybody,” Matheny said. “The confidence usually has a lot to do with the production, but right now, we have guys just searching to find it.”
Allen Craig believes the offense will come around.
“Obviously it has been a little bit slow lately,” Craig said. “But, I think we are going to stay optimistic and keep grinding out at bats. I feel like we have good at bats, the results just haven’t been there. It is a long season and it’s just the first month of the season. There are still a lot of months left to play in the season.”
St. Louis (13-12) finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. After Lyons grounded out, Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta both walked. Matt Holliday followed with a double to left, scoring Carpenter. But the Cardinals would leave Holliday and Peralta stranded at second and third.
St. Louis never put together another serious threat after the fifth. Peter Bourjos reached second in the sixth with two outs and Peralta made it to third in the seventh, also with two outs.
The Pirates added two more runs in the top of the ninth off of Cardinals' reliever Eric Fornataro.
The Cardinals had 10 runners reach base with the help of five hits and five walks, but stranded nine of them, six in scoring position. The Redbirds left two on in the second and fifth innings while leaving them loaded in the third. St. Louis left single runners on in each of the sixth and seventh innings.
“Those big hits in big situations aren’t easy to come by,” Matheny said. “I think we made it look easy last year. I think our guys grew to expect it to happen and I think they still do. We are sitting there in that situation thinking that everything is going to turn around right there and I think that is going to have to continue to happen. We will have to believe it before we see it.” Of the Cardinals’ five hits, Matt Adams had two of them. The other three went to Holliday, Peralta, and Craig. Carpenter drew two of St. Louis’ five walks while Bourjos, Peralta, and Lyons recorded the three other free passes.
“I think I have had some good at bats and hit some balls decent,” Craig said. “It just hasn’t been there for me, but it is going to improve.”
The Cardinals and the Pirates will conclude the series this afternoon at1:15. Adam Wainwright will take the hill for St. Louis while Edinson Volquez will counter for Pittsburgh.
NOTES: Jhonny Peralta’s double in the bottom of the seventh inning was the 300th double of his career. … Yadier Molina’s went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts as his 15 game hitting streak came to an end Saturday. The streak tied for Molina’s career-longest, originally set in 2007. … Following Saturday’s loss, the Cardinals have stretched their streak to 10 games without a home run. ... Pirates’ starter Francisco Liriano left the game in the bottom of the third with a 3-0 count to Matt Carpenter because of dizziness and flu-like symptoms. …