Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nothing for 19; Pirates 6, Cardinals 3; Redbirds Lose Series Finale as Hitters Suffer Another Brownout.; but Outing from Garcia Is Silver Lining; CARDINALS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Nothing for 19; Pirates 6, Cardinals 3; Redbirds Lose Series Finale as Hitters Suffer Another Brownout.; but Outing from Garcia Is Silver Lining; CARDINALS

Article excerpt

Whether it was the galling lack of offense or a misplayed bunt, the zero-for-15 afternoon from two All-Stars or the mistakes by a rookie lefty reliever, the sum of 6 hours, 7 minutes of baseball Sunday at Busch Stadium for the Cardinals was a distressing loss.

And still they came away with one significant gain.

Hours before the Cardinals blinked first and lost 6-3 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 19 innings, starter Jaime Garcia made an emphatic return from the disabled list. Garcia set a career high with 10 strikeouts and did not allow an earned run through eight innings. He kept the Cardinals in the game longer than the offense deserved, and 11 innings after he departed a 2-2 game those missed opportunities caught up with them.

Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez tagged rookie Barret Browning with a solo homer in the 19th and Andrew McCutchen added two more runs off Browning to steal an evenly played game.

"I don't know if it can be any more disappointing," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.

"A huge win," Alvarez said on the other side. "Gives you a rush of energy."

The victory kept the Pirates unbeaten in four extra-inning games this season and gave them a new foothold in the standings. After losing six of its previous eight games, Pittsburgh (67-54) took the three-game series from the Cardinals (65-56) and riveted them into third place, two games behind second-place Pittsburgh in the National League Central and wild-card race. The Cardinals were unable to pass the Bucs because of another extended power outage. The Cardinals remain the league's leading offense in runs scored, average, on-base percentage, and inexplicable stretches of ineffectiveness that lack all three.

The Cardinals and Pirates traded runs in the 17th to continue extra innings Sunday and underscore how evenly matched they were in a taut, crisply played series. Through the first 36 innings against each other this weekend, the two teams had each scored nine runs. The Cardinals' inability to capitalize on earlier opportunities cost them late. David Freese and Matt Holliday combined to go hitless in 15 at-bats. With starter Jeff Karstens and a parade of relievers, the Pirates went one stretch retiring 22 of 24 Cardinals. Carlos Beltran's two-run double in the fourth gave the Cardinals their only lead of the game, and he was their last player in scoring position until he got to second base in the 14th inning.

Beltran stole three bases after the 14th but didn't score partially because the Cardinals could not produce a hit in seven extra-inning plate appearances with a runner in scoring position.

"A loss is a loss, no matter how you break it down," said second baseman Skip Schumaker, who contributed an 0-for-three day to the Cardinals' one-for-10 with runners in scoring position. "We had opportunities. I had opportunities. …

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