Pirates earn doubleheader sweep over Cardinals
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Erik Gonzalez and Adam Frazier singled in runs, rookie Cody Ponce earned his first big league victory and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 Thursday night for a doubleheader sweep.
Cole Tucker drove in the go-ahead run in extra innings in the Pirates' 4-3 win in the opener.
Ponce (1-1) was used as a reliever in his first two appearances this season and made his first major league start. He went 5 2/3 innings, holding the Cardinals scoreless and scattering five hits.
“You know what, it's awesome. It's a fun time,” Ponce said. “The nerves were definitely there when I stepped out there for the first inning. I was more comfortable in the second. I just wanted to do my best.”
Rookie Nick Turley pitched the seventh to record his first save in the majors. Prior to this year, Turley hadn't appeared in affiliated ball since 2017 due to elbow injuries.
Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton was happy his two rookies each notched a first in the second game.
“For Ponce's first big league start, that was extremely impressive,” Shelton said. “He stepped up and pitched his butt off. I thought he did a helluva job.
"We had two firsts tonight. Nick got his first major league save. That was big for him. He's worked really hard to get back. All the credit goes to him mentally and physically.”
St. Louis rookie Johan Ovideo (0-1) took the loss. He pitched five innings, allowing four hits and two runs. Kwang Hyun Kim pitched six innings in the opener, allowing three hits and an unearned run.
“Great starting pitching on both ends of the doubleheader,” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. "Going in we were comfortable and confident. We were going to get six innings out of the starters, which is what we did. Got two earned runs. We would have taken that every day of the week, but it wasn’t enough for us to bring one home – or two.”
Pittsburgh scored both runs in the third. Gonzalez and Frazier hit back-to-back singles, scoring J.T. Riddle and John Ryan Murphy.
The seven-inning first game went to extras tied at one, and Tucker scored automatic runner Jarrod Dyson with a single off John Gant (0-2) in the eighth. Pittsburgh added two more runs with two outs on an RBI single by Bryan Reynolds and an error by third baseman Brad Miller of a ball hit by catcher Jacob Stalling.
Chad Kuhl delivered six innings of one-run ball for Pittsburgh, Chris Stratton (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh and Richard Rodriguez allowed two runs but got his second save by pitching the eighth.
“I feel really good every time out there," said Kuhl, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery. "I'm happy with where I'm at and excited to see where I go from here.”
St. Louis scored on a sacrifice fly by Kolten Wong and single by Paul Goldschmidt that bounced off Rodriguez. But Rodriguez struck out the final two batters, both left-handers, to nail down the win.
It was the fifth extra-inning game this season for Pittsburgh and the first for St. Louis. This was the Pirates first victory in the new format, and dating to last season, they had lost 11 straight extra-inning games.
Yadier Molina led off the fifth with a home run against Kuhl for a 1-1 tie. It was Molina’s 157th career home run, passing Matt Holiday for 11th on the Cardinals career list. He also passed Joe “Ducky” Medwick with his 924th career RBI for eighth in Cardinals history.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead when Stallings hit a two-out single to score Tucker in the fourth inning for an unearned run off Kim. Stallings has hit safely in six of his last seven games.
BACK AFTER SITTING OUT
OF Dexter Fowler returned to the starting lineup and played right field in Game 1 of the doubleheader. Fowler, along with pitcher Jack Flaherty, opted to sit out Wednesday’s game to protest social injustice after the shooting of a Black man by a police officer in Wisconsin.
Flaherty said he discussed unified protest across baseball with players Thursday, but nothing materialized in part because of pushback from some players who didn't want to sit out.
“It’s tough because yesterday would have been the day for league-wide action, and it wasn’t able to happen league-wide yesterday,” Flaherty said. “Hopefully it could happen today, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to be able to happen today.”
Pirates: OF Anthony Alford was claimed Thursday off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cardinals: RHP Junior Fernandez was activated Thursday and added to the roster. ... St. Louis named RHP Seth Elledge as the 29th man for the roster of the doubleheader. ... the club also optioned Edmundo Sosa to the Springfield, Missouri, alternate-site camp.
Pirates: RHP Keone Kela (right forearm inflammation) was placed on the 10-day injured list. He has not pitched since leaving the Aug. 21 game against the Brewers. Pittsburgh's closer had been the subject of speculation ahead of the Aug. 31 trade deadline.
Cardinals: LHP Andrew Miller (shoulder fatigue) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Aug. 24. Miller (0-1, 4.76) has a team-leading two saves in two opportunities and seven total appearances this season.
Pirates: LHP Derek Holland (1-1, 6.17) will start at Milwaukee on Jackie Robinson Day. Holland allowed one run on four hits and three walks while striking out five over five innings in his last start against the Brewers. ... Milwaukee will start RHP Corbin Burnes (0-0, 3.42).
Cardinals: RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-2, 5.25) will start against the visiting Indians. allowed two runs on three hits with four walks in 4 2/3 innings against the Reds last Sunday. He fell one out shy of recording his first win in a starting role. ... Cleveland will use RHP Triston McKenzie (1-0, 1.50), who turned in one of the best Major League debuts in team history last Saturday against the Tigers, fanning 10 in six innings and allowing just two hits.