Cardinals' bullpen implodes as Bucs win, 5-3

Dilip Vishwanat

Jake Westbrook dominated the Pirates for six innings (with most of the Bucs' six hits against him coming on weak ground balls), but the Cardinals' bullpen quickly undid Westbrook's good work, earning a 5-3 victory for A.J. Burnett and the Pirates.

Burnett struck out six and walked three while allowing two runs in six innings, but allowed a run in the first (after the first two batters singled) and another in the sixth (when he appeared to be tired). That gave the Cards a 2-0 lead heading into the seventh. They inserted Joe Kelly, and things quickly went haywire for them. First, Pedro Alvarez singled. Then, quickly and unexpectedly, Russell Martin hit an opposite-field, two-run homer to tie the game. It almost felt unreal, as if the Pirates had done little to deserve to be tied, but that's the power of the home run.

In any case, though, Kelly didn't stop there. Clint Barmes singled, still with no outs. James McDonald, who pinch-hit because the Pirates had a short bench, couldn't lay down a bunt, but then Starling Marte walked. Trevor Rosenthal relieved Kelly after that and struggled to throw strikes, hitting Jose Tabata and then walking Andrew McCutchen to bring in the go-ahead run. Garrett Jones then recorded an RBI groundout to make it 4-2.

Tony Watson got through the bottom of the seventh without incident. Then, in the eighth, a Russell Martin double off Mark Rzepczynski set up a sacrifice fly by Gaby Sanchez, making it 5-2. That left the last two innings to Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli. Grilli did give up a run in the ninth, but the Bucs held on to win. It was really just a meltdown by the Cardinals' bullpen, and the Pirates took advantage.

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