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Pirates can't back Ivan Nova, fall to Cardinals, 2-1

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Ivan Nova was strong and efficient, but Lance Lynn was pretty good, too, and the Pirates fell to the Cardinals, 2-1, in a quick game Monday night in St. Louis.

Nova needed just 78 pitches to go through all eight innings needed of him. He struck out three, walked none and allowed five hits. He even got 13 groundouts versus two flyouts.

Kolten Wong, a hall of famer against the Pirates, smacked a solo home run to right-center in the third inning, the only run of the game for most of the night. Nova set the next 12 down, spanning four innings, which seemingly took about four minutes.

Lynn, back from Tommy John surgery, was quite effective himself, allowing just three hits, striking out five and walking one in seven innings to keep things moving along.

The Pirates got two runners on with two outs in the first and fourth innings, but couldn't make anything out of either opportunity. Josh Harrison was hit in the foot by pitches in his first two plate appearances -- four HBPs in a row going back to Sunday.

St. Louis tacked on another run in the seventh. Stephen Piscotty singled to center, but foolishly tried to take second on Starling Marte and was easily thrown out. Randal Grichuk followed with a single and, while I was looking up Jose Martinez's long, winding baseball history, stole second and took third on Francisco Cervelli's wild throw. The 28-year-old rookie Martinez then singled him in.

The Bucs couldn't get anything going in the eighth against Trevor Rosenthal. Seung-Hwan Oh got a quick out in the ninth, then Josh Bell singled off Martinez's glove. Cervelli grounded out, pushing an unimportant runner to second. Gregory Polanco pinch-hit for Harrison, smacking a line-drive double all the way to the left-center field wall to score Bell. John Jaso, 0-for-the-year, but having drawn a couple big walks Sunday, pinch hit for Jordy Mercer, but bounced out to first, ending the game and the Pirates' only real threat of the night.

Bell had two of the Pirates' five hits.

The result ended three-game streaks for both teams, the Pirates of course having swept the Cubs over the weekend, and the Cardinals having been swept by the Yankees.