Pirates Foiled In Attempt To Sweep Cardinals; Pedro Alvarez Leaves Game With Cramp

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 30: Pedro Alvarez #24 of the Pittsburgh Pirates fields a one hopper against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Pirates missed a sweep against the Cardinals Sunday, losing 5-4.

Erik Bedard left a pitch up against Yadier Molina in the second, and Molina crushed it to left to make it 1-0. Then in the third, Allen Craig reached down to knock a two-run homer to put the Cards up by three. Meanwhile, the Pirates missed out on scoring chances in the second (when they led off the inning with two soft singles) and third (when Alex Presley tripled with one out but got standed).

The Pirates grabbed the lead in the fourth, though. Clint Barmes started the scoring with a fly ball that dropped between three fielders for an RBI single, and Michael McKenry followed him by crushing a three-run homer.

The Cardinals retook the lead in the fifth on a Matt Holliday RBI double and a run-scoring single by Shane Robinson, though, and Clint Hurdle replaced Erik Bedard with Chris Resop.

That turned out to be all the Cardinals would need. The Pirates put two men on in the sixth, but didn't score. In the eighth, Pedro Alvarez led off with a single, but left the game, apparently due to some kind of leg injury. I'll update when I have more on that. Drew Sutton then singled. Clint Barmes bunted, certainly a reasonable bunt given the situation. But neither McKenry nor Josh Harrison could bring the runners home. Jason Motte picked up the save with a scoreless inning in the ninth.

Let's hope Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen can get back in the lineup soon -- it's hard to overstate the degree to which those two have fueled the Pirates' strong hitting recently. One wonders whether McCutchen might have made the difference in this one, in fact.

UPDATE: Alvarez just had a cramp. No big deal, fortunately.

A couple notes:

-P- I started driving from Pittsburgh to Columbus right around when this one started. When 93.7 finally faded out I listened to the Reds broadcast of their game against the Giants, which was a nonstop whinefest about the Reds getting "only" three All-Star selections and Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto not getting the call, apparently, they thought, because of their roles in a brawl with Tony LaRussa's Cardinals nearly two years ago. I have three responses.

1.

2. Brandon Phillips really wasn't much of a snub. Sorry.

3. All Star selections are stupid and arbitrary SHOCKER. One of the few nice things about being a Pirates fan over the past few years is having the freedom to completely ignore the All Star Game. Either way, the hometown whining is tiresome. The best players often don't make it, and the players from your team you think are the best probably actually aren't, anyway.

In any case, McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan will represent the Pirates. James McDonald didn't make it. Whatever.

-P- June was Bucs Dugout's biggest month ever, in terms of visits and page views. Thanks to my fellow writers and to all of you for making that possible.

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