MLB: Pirates win fourth in a row
PITTSBURGH — The Pirates used three right fielders, including two who had never played the outfield in a major league game before, and five relief pitchers, on Saturday night.
Somehow, all the maneuvering by manager Clint Hurdle paid off.
Pedro Alvarez singled in the go-ahead run and the Pirates won their season-high fourth straight game, 4-3 over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“We drew a lot of stuff up in the dirt,” Hurdle said. “Everybody showed up, though, and did what they were supposed to do and it ended up being a really gritty win for us.”
The Pirates were short two outfielders as center fielder Andrew McCutchen missed a game for the first time this season because of soreness in his left foot and right fielder Travis Snider was serving the second game of a two-game suspension from for his part in an April 20 brawl with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Starling Marte, normally the left fielder who was starting in center in place of McCutchen, left the game for pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez in bottom of the fourth inning because of lower back stiffness. Josh Harrison, who started in right field, moved to left and Sanchez took over in right for his first outfield action of his seven-year career.
Hurdle then decided to move shortstop Jordy Mercer to right field in the eighth inning with the Pirates holding on to a 4-3 lead. Backup shortstop Clint Barmes replaced Mercer, who played in the outfield for the first time in his three-year career.
Neither Sanchez nor Mercer had a ball hit their way.
“We had talked about the possibility (on Friday), so Gaby was prepared,” Hurdle said. “Jordy’s athletic and he has a good arm. “I figured he could catch the ball and maybe throw someone out if he had to.”
Alvarez’s hit capped a four-run fourth inning against Lance Lynn (4-2) that helped the Pirates wipe out a 3-0 deficit.
Harrison and Ike Davis each had two hits for the Pirates, who have won 11 of their last 14 games against the Cardinals in Pittsburgh. Harrison also hit an RBI single in the fourth.
Jared Hughes (2-1) retired all four batters he faced in relief of starter Edinson Volquez, including getting Matt Adams to ground out with the bases loaded to end the fifth inning and preserve a one-run lead.
Mark Melancon earned his fourth save with a scoreless ninth, striking out Allen Craig with runners on first and second for the final out.
Hughes and Melancon combined with Justin Wilson, Bryan Morris and Tony Watson for 4 1-3 scoreless relief innings.
“It’s a tough spot with the bases loaded, but all I’m thinking is to keep the ball down and let my fielders make a play and that’s exactly what happened,” Hughes said.
Lynn allowed four runs in six innings and is winless in four starts since winning his first four starts of the season. He gave up nine hits and two walks while striking out five as the Cardinals dropped to 3-5 on their 10-game road trip.
Volquez and Jose Tabata hit consecutive run-scoring groundouts in the fourth inning before Harrison and Alvarez followed with RBI singles.
“What can I do? I gave up a bunch on infield singles,” Lynn said. “It’s not like I was giving up double-double-double-double. I was giving up infield singles — that’s just really bad luck, and I’ve had those games and I’ve had nights when I’ve given up double-double-double and given up three runs. As a pitcher you’d much rather give up double-double-double because singles (are upsetting).”
NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina, who is 0 for 12 in his last four games, got a day off. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez will be activated from the disabled list and start Thursday at Milwaukee. He has been out with right knee inflammation since April 20. ... The three-game series ends tonight with St. Louis RHP Shelby Miller (4-2, 3.20) facing RHP Charlie Morton (0-4, 3.45). It will mark the first time ESPN has televised a Sunday night game from Pittsburgh since 1996.