Cardinals secure sweep of Pirates on Molina's dash home

 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS - Starting pitchers Edinson Volquez of the Pirates and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals were dominant on Wednesday afternoon, and they and their bullpens kept the final game of their three-game series scoreless until the ninth.

That's when Yadier Molina walked on a 3-2 pitch with two outs, went to second on a single by Jon Jay and scored on a single by Peter Bourjos to give the Cardinals a 1-0 win and a three-game sweep of their series with the Pirates.

Bourjos grounded his hit up the middle and Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo never hesitated in waving home Molina, who slid across the plate in beating throw by center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Teammates raced from the dugout to mob Bourjos and hoist him into the air.

"I was just hoping that Yadi was able to score," Bourjos said. "I wasn't too sure where McCutchen was playing out there. I didn't know if he was playing shallow or deep, but, luckily, Yadi was able to beat the play."

"Big situation, he did a great job," manager Mike Matheny said of Bourjos, who was in the starting lineup even though the Pirates started a right-hander, which would normally mean Oscar Taveras in right. "He's been swinging the bat well, he has a real nice approach. He's not trying to do too much but he's coming up big for us."

"I think you try to slow everything down and keep it simple, not try to do too much," Bourjos said. "That's exactly what I tried to do. The ball really slowed down for me there."

Matheny said he never considered pinch running for Molina when he was on second in the ninth.

"There were certainly plenty of people in the first several rows that thought Yadi should be run for," Matheny said. "His value to me behind the plate outweighs what we'll get on the bases. ... If he gets thrown out at the plate, it's a different conversation we're having. I'd still have the same answer. We need him back there. He got this thing going. It's nice to see him help finish it."

Miller, who came out after seven innings, struck out five, walked three and allowed three hits, a single by Starling Marte in the second, a single by Neil Walker in the fourth and a leadoff double by Walker in the seventh. Volquez didn't allow a hit until the fifth, when Jay and Bourjos started the inning with back-to-back singles. Miller bunted them to second and third, but Volquez struck out Matt Carpenter (looking) and Kolten Wong (swinging) to get out of the inning. The Cardinals got a hit in the sixth from Matt Adams, who was hitless in his previous 10 at-bats.

"(Shelby) is really where this thing starts," Matheny said. "That was one of his best starts. That's probably as well as I've seen him pitch, how he used his secondary pitches. He knew he had to going into this game and something he's had trouble with with these guys. He showed a very good curve ball, showed an opportunity to show his changeup and not much of a cutter, at times he did, and then had a good fastball that was running both ways. He and Yadi, it was fun to watch. They were on the same page. They were having some success with it."

Volquez came out in the seventh after Jay walked and was sacrificed to second by Bourjos. Tony Watson came on in relief and Jay was thrown out trying to steal third and then pinch hitter Randal Grichuk struck out to end the inning.

Carlos Martinez came on for Miller in the eighth and gave up a walk to pinch hitter Gregory Polanco after he thought he had him struck out earlier in the count. Josh Harrison tried to bunt him to second but struck out. Kolten Wong made an outstanding sliding stop on a ground ball by Andrew Lambo, getting the out at first while Polanco took third. That brought up Andrew McCutchen, who Martinez struck out on the ninth pitch of the at-bat. A visibly excited Martinez was pounding his chest as he walked off the field.

Both benches were warned when Miller threw a ball behind McCutchen in the sixth inning. Before the bottom of the sixth, Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny were yelling toward the Pirates from the Cards dugout, and home plate umpire Ron Kulpa had to step between Pirates catcher Russell Martin and the Cardinals.

The Pirates threatened in the seventh after Walker's double. He went to third on a fly out by Martin. The Carinals intentionally walked Ike Davis and Miller then got Marte to line out to second and Jordy Mercer to fly out to center to end the inning.

Trevor Rosenthal pitched a scoreless ninth and got the win.

The Cardinals come into the game with a 2-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central. The Brewers play at Chicago on Wednesday night.

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