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Pirates beat Cardinals 4-3 with outfielders tied behind their backs

Justin K. Aller

This may have been a Pyrrhic victory for the Pirates. Starling Marte left the game with back tightness, and Andrew McCutchen sat out with ankle trouble, leaving the Bucs perilously thin in the outfield. And Edison Volquez did not pitch well, looking more like the pre-2014, control-challenged Volquez than the version we saw in April. But it was another victory nonetheless, as the Pirates managed to hold out for a 4-3 win.

Volquez gave up three runs in the second. He allowed a single, a walk and another single for the first run, then gave up an HBP and allowed a run on a double play. Then he threw a wild pitch against Lance Lynn to bring home a third run before ultimately walking Lynn.

The Pirates picked up four runs in the fourth on a rally catalyzed by Ike Davis, who reached base three times in the game. Davis singled, then moved up on an HBP and another single. Volquez and Jose Tabata then each brought runs home on groundouts, and then Josh Harrison, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez hit consecutive singles. When the smoke cleared, the Pirates had a 4-3 lead.

They barely kept it. Volquez loaded the bases in the fifth before being replaced by Jared Hughes for some reason in what was plainly a crucial situation; Hughes, fortunately, got Matt Adams to ground out to end the threat. (The Pirates then had Hughes bat the next inning with a man on and two outs; he grounded out and appeared to be trying, so I suppose he looked good in comparison to some Pirates pitchers.)

The Cardinals put two men on against Justin Wilson in the seventh and against Mark Melancon in the ninth, but they failed to score each time. It could have been much worse -- Jordy Mercer, Gaby Sanchez and Harrison all played the outfield today, and Harrison looked badly exposed while misjudging Matt Adams' double in the eighth. (Mercer is good enough as a shortstop, as he showed on a terrific catch in foul ground in the third. But he shouldn't be playing outfield.) The Pirates might not have been able to completely anticipate their injury issues, but Travis Snider's suspension was no secret, so it's on the Bucs that they didn't have Jaff Decker or Chris Dickerson available. The Pirates are playing with fire if they continue like this. Hopefully the McCutchen and Marte injuries won't prove to be significant -- it sounds like McCutchen will play tomorrow.