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Defense fails Gerrit Cole, Pirates lose to Cardinals, 4-2

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This one just felt dark from the early going. The Pirates managed to hang around, but the defense put Gerrit Cole in a bad spot and the Bucs again fell to the Cardinals, 4-2.

Gregory Polanco singled off Michael Wacha's first pitch of the night, but the next batter, Starling Marte appeared to injure his left hand on a foul ball. Polanco got caught stealing by a mile on a Yadier Molina throw from his knees, Marte popped out and Andrew McCutchen struck out in a sequence that ended an early threat and cast a negative vibe over the entire evening.

Marte stayed in the game until the third, when he again popped out. He looked to be in more pain after that and was taken out.

Cole walked Wacha to start the bottom of the third. With one out, Aramis Ramirez deflected a Kolten Wong grounder into left field. In a play seemingly only the Pirates infield could make, Neil Walker ranged to his left to stop Jhonny Peralta's grounder, but Pedro Alvarez had already headed towards the middle of the diamond, anticipating being the cutoff man on a hit to right field. Walker lobbed the ball to first as Alvarez got back to the bag, but the soft throw apparently caused Alvarez to pull his foot. It was a close play, but a review could not overturn the call and the bases were loaded. Walker then almost turned a double play, fielding Jason Heyward's bouncer and stepping on second, but he hurried an awful throw in the dirt. Alvarez handled the throw just as poorly, and two runs scored on the play.

McCutchen erased some of that ugliness, launching an opposite field home run to lead off the fourth. Ramirez and Jung-Ho Kang followed with singles, but, just to make sure they weren't the goats only on defense, Walker and Alvarez popped out and flew out, respectively. Francisco Cervelli, the No. 8 hitter, was walked, and Cole, already at 92 pitches, stayed in the game and struck out.

The Pirates tied it at 2 in the fifth when McCutchen got a triple when his line drive hooked and Cardinals center fielder Randal Grichuk fell. That scored Polanco from first, but the Pirates stranded Cutch at third.

Polanco returned the favor to Grichuk in the bottom of the sixth, charging too aggressively on Molina's hit and letting it get by him, giving the catcher a triple and allowing Grichuk to score. Stephen Piscotty singled to plate Molina for a 4-2 Cardinals lead, chasing Cole after just 5 1-3 innings.

The Bucs' ace needed 106 pitches to get through even that. He had six strikeouts versus two walks, but was charged for the four runs, three earned, on seven hits.

Wacha lasted six innings, then Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal shut the door.

So... Marte could be hurt, the Pirates burned one of their two trustworthy and healthy starting pitchers and they lost ground on St. Louis above and the Cubs below. Some night.