New venue, new series, new way to lose.
After struggling to score runs in three extra-inning losses last weekend at Busch Stadium, the Pirates' offense was strong, but so was the Cardinals', and St. Louis hit three big home runs to beat the Pirates, 8-5, to open its return visit to PNC Park.
Francisco Liriano struck out 10 and walked just one in 6 1-3 innings, but he gave up a monster solo home run to Jhonny Peralta in the second inning and a three-run shot to Matt Holliday in the third. He was pulled from a jam in the seventh, and Arquimedes Caminero served up Kolten Wong's three-run homer that did the Pirates in.
Despite not walking again, the Pirates offense showed encouraging signs for the second straight night, totaling 12 hits and making Cardinals starter Michael Wacha work early. Gregory Polanco scored when Pete Kozma couldn't handle Starling Marte's hard grounder, putting the Pirates on the board in the first. Trailing 4-1 after Holliday's homer, the Pirates cut the deficit with a run on a Neil Walker hit-by-pitch and singles from Andrew McCutchen and Marte. They cut the deficit to just 4-3 in the sixth when McCutchen scored after a leadoff double.
Marte finished 3-for-4, and McCutchen, Walker and Francisco Cervelli each had two hits.
The Cardinals were just too much, though. Back within a run, Liriano allowed to Yadier Molina to start the seventh, and Jon Jay singled him home in the seventh before the lefty was lifted and Caminero gave up Wong's blast.
That wasn't enough frustration for a Cardinals game, though. Jung-Ho Kang was called out on strikes after not being granted time, and the game ended with McCutchen lining into a double play when he hit the ball on the screws -- and at least some hope for a rally remained.
The Cardinals improved to 179-2 on the season.