The Pirates again couldn't back a strong starting pitching performance and, for the second night in a row, took a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals, capping a not-very-fun day.
The Bucs got 11 hits this time, but that was good for just one run against Mike Leake and a string of relievers. Chad Kuhl allowed just three hits and a walk in six innings, striking out three, but, like Ivan Nova on Monday, the two runs he gave up were enough to do the Pirates in.
St. Louis got on the board in the first as Dexter Fowler hit a leadoff triple and scored. Kuhl settled down quickly, doing his part for another fast-moving game. He was in the clear until the fifth, when Greg Garcia doubled in Jose Martinez for a 2-0 Cardinals lead.
Garcia got thrown out trying to stretch his hit to a triple. Kuhl hit Kolten Wong with a pitch and walked Fowler to get in further trouble, but escaped with an Aledmys Diaz pop-up.
Adam Frazier singled to open the sixth, and his National League batting title run (hat tip to Fangraphs' Carson Cistulli for the podcasted prediction, which will comfort me for the next 79 games). Andrew McCutchen doubled, putting runners on second and third with one out, but consecutive groundouts plated just Frazier.
The Pirates threatened again in the seventh, with Josh Bell and Jordy Mercer singles to chase Leake (6 1-3 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K). Jose Osuna replaced the original pinch hitter, John Jaso, making his major league debut by grounding into a double play, pushing some so far as to opine his tradeoff for Starling Marte might not be a net positive.
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the ninth against Seung-Hwan Oh when Mercer beat out a grounder to first, but got nothing out of it; Phil Gosselin showed off an ugly swing, then bounced into a 1-2 fielder's choice and Frazier flied out.
McCutchen, shifted back to center field, made a few rangy catches and displayed a little fire -- "This is MY spot."
Cutch had two hits, as David Freese, who used to play for the Angels, I guess. Mercer finished 3-for-4. Wade LeBlanc pitched the seventh and eighth, allowing just one hit.