Cardinals stumble again with 4-1 loss to Pirates

(TSX / STATS) -- PITTSBURGH -- With his club locked in a three-way tussle in the National League wild-card race, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny on Sunday handed the ball to a rookie right-hander making his first start of 2017.

John Gant's appearance against the Pittsburgh Pirates was abbreviated, but useful. He allowed one run in three innings. The bullpen? Not so good, as relievers Seung Hwan Oh and Brett Cecil yielded home runs as the Pirates beat the Cardinals 4-1 at PNC Park.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals' offense missed key opportunities, producing just four hits.

Pirates' right-hander Jameson Taillon (8-7) left after five innings and 95 pitches, but pitched effectively -- one run, six strikeouts and one walk.

Jordan Luplow homered and tripled for the Pirates, and five relievers held the Cardinals scoreless over the last six innings. Felipe Rivero notched his 19th save.

Gant escaped trouble in the second after Luplow's one-out triple when Max Moroff popped out and Taillon grounded out following Jacob Stallings' intentional walk.

Matt Carpenter led off the third with his 22nd home run to give the Cardinals a short-lived 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, the Pirates loaded the bases with none out. Jose Osuna lofted a short fly to left. Chris Bostick broke from third base, anyway, and Tommy Pham, caught unaware, threw to third. Jedd Gyorko's relay to the plate was too late, and Starling Marte wound up on third.

But Gant settled things down, allowing just the one run, when he picked Andrew McCutchen off first base and Sean Rodriguez grounded out, stranding Marte at third.

Taillon, who retired six straight after Carpenter's homer, gave up a pair of singles with one out in the fifth but struck out Carpenter and Pham to keep the game knotted.

Matt Bowman pitched a scoreless fourth for the Cardinals in relief of Gant. Oh (1-6), the ex-closer, came in to pitch the fifth and was greeted by Bostick's single and Marte's seventh homer of the season as the Pirates took a 3-1 lead.

Luplow's solo homer off Brett Cecil in the sixth made it 4-1.

The Cardinals loaded the bases with two out in the seventh inning, but Pham grounded out sharply off George Kontos, the third reliever of the inning.

NOTES: St. Louis Cardinals 1B Matt Carpenter's third-inning home run was his 55th extra base hit, tops on the club. ... Before Carpenter's homer, Pittsburgh Pirates RHP Jameson Taillon had yielded one in his previous five starts. ... OF Jordan Luplow tripled and homered for the Pirates that day after he was named the club's minor league hitter of the year.


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