St. Louis at Pittsburgh

St. Louis
W: Z. Duke (5-6) L: S. Ponson (4-2)
S: M. Gonzalez (12)
HR: STL - S. Rolen (8)   PIT - J. Castillo (10)

Pirates 9, Cardinals 7

CBS wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- Freddy Sanchez jokes that Pirates teammate Zach Duke has a pretty swing for a pitcher, but rarely does much with it. On a night Duke didn't pitch nearly as well as usual, that bat certainly came in handy.

Jose Castillo homered and drove in four runs and Duke was more effective at the plate than on the mound with three RBI, leading the Pirates past the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-7 Wednesday night.

"It's very nice to know I did contribute somewhere," Duke said. "Any thing you can do to help the team, that's the most important thing. I'm pretty proud I was able to do something."

The last-place Pirates got a rare victory against NL Central leader St. Louis, which lost for the 10th time in 17 games. The Pirates were 1-6 against the Cardinals this season and 5-18 the last two seasons, and had dropped 33 of 44 to them at home since PNC Park opened in 2001.

Duke (5-6) has seen the Pirates lose seven of his 14 starts by one run, only to get the decision after making one of his worst starts this season. The left-hander gave up 10 hits and five runs in five innings, but left with a 6-5 lead after twice delivering run-scoring singles against opposing starter Sidney Ponson (4-2).

"When you give up five runs, you don't expect to win," Duke said.

Castillo had an RBI double in the second -- one of three Pirates three-run innings. He then made it 9-5 with a three-run homer off reliever Brad Thompson in the sixth, a drive to left that followed Craig Wilson's double and Sanchez's walk.

Castillo is developing into one of the NL's better offensive second basemen in his third season as a regular, with 10 homers, 38 RBI and a .297 average with 96 games remaining. The homer was Castillo's second in 12 games since he homered in five consecutive games from May 26-31.

Duke hasn't had many worse outings in his 28 starts since joining the Pirates' rotation a year ago, but hasn't had a better night at the plate. He made it 3-1 with a two-run single to right in the second inning then, after giving up four runs in the Cardinals' third to fall behind 5-3, came back with another RBI single in the three-run fourth that put Pittsburgh back into the lead.

"I used to be a good hitter, once upon a time," said Duke, who hit .450 with 13 homers as a junior at Midway (Texas) High. "But that was with an aluminum bat."

The Pirates' bullpen was more effective than Duke, whose 4.52 ERA through 14 starts is more than twice that of 1.81 ERA of last season, when he went 8-2 as a rookie. Salomon Torres, Damaso Marte, and Roberto Hernandez combined for three scoreless innings. Matt Capps gave up a two-run homer to Scott Rolen in the ninth before Mike Gonzalez got the final out for his 12th save in 12 chances.

Ponson struggled throughout his 3 1/3 innings -- partly because he couldn't retire the opposing pitcher with runners in scoring position -- and lost his second in a row after going 4-0 in his first eight Cardinals starts. The Cardinals also had four runners thrown out, two trying to steal and another two on popups that were turned into double plays.

"I really pitched bad today, that's it," Ponson said. "That doesn't mean the pitcher beat me, everybody beat me. I'm not going to make any excuses."

Ponson gave up seven hits and six runs, leaving after Duke's second RBI single. Duke has a .241 average with five RBI.

"Sid had a lot of problems finishing hitters off -- he worked the count to his favor, made pitches to get ahead and then couldn't finish them off," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

Jack Wilson added a run-scoring single in the fourth to end an 0-for-15 slide and Sanchez also had an RBI single while getting on base three times and scoring three times for Pittsburgh. Sanchez, not on the NL All-Star ballot because Joe Randa was expected to be the starting third baseman, has a .346 average that is second in the NL to Rolen's .358 for St. Louis.

Rolen doubled and singled his first two times up, giving him six consecutive hits to start the series. He then got out twice before hitting his eighth homer, in the ninth.


St. Louis' division lead was cut to two games as the Reds beat Milwaukee 3-0. ... The Pirates have won only one of their last 15 series against St. Louis, going 1-11-3. ... Juan Encarnacion had three hits and drove in two St. Louis runs. ... The Pirates' 110 runs since May 26 are the most in the NL.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

J. Castillo
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
St. Louis

S. Rolen
AB 5
R 3
H 3
HR 1

Related Video

May 16, 2017
MLB Power Rankings (5/16) (2:03)
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS5110002 .322
So Taguchi, LF3210211 .277
Scott Rolen, 3B5333000 .358
Juan Encarnacion, RF5132011 .269
Jim Edmonds, CF3001112 .247
Hector Luna, 1B4031012 .314
Yadier Molina, C3010001 .216
Aaron Miles, 2B4010002 .274
Sidney Ponson, P0000100 .273
    Brad Thompson, P0000000 .500
   a- Timo Perez, PH1000011 .111
    Josh Hancock, P0000000 .000
    Tyler Johnson, P0000000 .000
   b- John Rodriguez, PH1000000 .311
a-struck out for Thompson in the 6th
b-flied out for Johnson in the 9th
2B - Scott Rolen (22, Duke), Juan Encarnacion (11, Duke), Hector Luna (8, Duke), Yadier Molina (10, Torres)
HR - Scott Rolen (8, Capps)
SH - Yadier Molina (4), Sidney Ponson (5)
RBI - Scott Rolen 3 (43), Juan Encarnacion 2 (33), Jim Edmonds (36), Hector Luna (11)
2-OUT RBI - Scott Rolen 2 (17), Juan Encarnacion (15), Hector Luna (5)
SB - Hector Luna (3, 2nd base off Duke/Paulino)
CS - Juan Encarnacion (3, 3rd base by Duke/Paulino), Sidney Ponson (1, 2nd base by Duke/Paulino)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Eckstein-Miles-Luna
St. Louis Cardinals
Sidney Ponson (L,4-2) 3.1766010 4.35
Brad Thompson 1.2533111 3.45
Josh Hancock 2100010 2.92
Tyler Johnson 1100010 4.09
HBP - C. Wilson (by Sidney Ponson)
Pitches-Strikes - Sidney Ponson 68-44, Brad Thompson 28-18, Josh Hancock 19-13, Tyler Johnson 14-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Sidney Ponson 4-5, Brad Thompson 3-1, Josh Hancock 1-3, Tyler Johnson 1-1
Batters Faced - Sidney Ponson 18, Brad Thompson 11, Josh Hancock 6, Tyler Johnson 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, CF-RF5010014 .225
Jack Wilson, SS5011003 .281
Sean Casey, 1B5010023 .337
Jason Bay, LF4110001 .307
Craig Wilson, RF3320010 .277
    Damaso Marte, P0000000 .000
    Roberto Hernandez, P0000000 .000
    Matt Capps, P0000000 .000
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000 .000
Freddy Sanchez, 3B3321100 .346
Jose Castillo, 2B4224002 .297
Ronny Paulino, C4010002 .310
Zach Duke, P3023001 .241
    Salomon Torres, P0000000 .000
    Jose Bautista, CF1010000 .236
2B - Craig Wilson (10, Thompson), Jose Castillo (11, Ponson)
HR - Jose Castillo (10, Thompson)
RBI - Jack Wilson (20), Freddy Sanchez (34), Jose Castillo 4 (38), Zach Duke 3 (5)
2-OUT RBI - Jack Wilson (10), Zach Duke 2 (4)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Casey-F. Sanchez, Paulino-F. Sanchez, Castillo-Casey
Pittsburgh Pirates
Zach Duke (W,5-6) 51055220 4.52
Salomon Torres 1.2100120 4.19
Damaso Marte 0.1000010 3.22
Roberto Hernandez 1100000 2.20
Matt Capps 0.2122101 4.83
Mike Gonzalez (S,12) 0.1000000 2.45
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Duke 85-56, Salomon Torres 31-20, Damaso Marte 4-3, Roberto Hernandez 8-6, Matt Capps 21-9, Mike Gonzalez 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Duke 6-4, Salomon Torres 3-0, Roberto Hernandez 1-1, Mike Gonzalez 1-0
Batters Faced - Zach Duke 24, Salomon Torres 7, Damaso Marte 1, Roberto Hernandez 3, Matt Capps 4, Mike Gonzalez 1
Game Information
Attendance - 20289
Game Time - 2:50
Temperature - 71
Umpires - Home - Brian Runge, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Bruce Froemming, Third Base - Mike Winters