After winning six of seven, the Pirates served up yet another reminder that they’re really not a very good team. The Cards hit a bunch of line drives off Jameson Taillon while the Pirates hit a vast array of dribblers and popups. The result was a desultory, 4-0 loss.
Taillon mostly breezed through the first three innings. After the Cards started the game with a pair of singles, one of them a weak grounder that got through, Taillon induced a double play and a strikeout. He then set the side down in order in the second and third.
The second time through the order, though, the Cards started hitting Taillon hard. In the fourth, Tommy Pham led off with a double and, after a ground out, scored on a line single to left by Jedd Gyorko. Yadier Molina then lined a ball deep to right that Gregory Polanco ran down. Gyorko committed the kind of blunder that Pirates fans fervently believe only their own team makes; he went all the way down to second and waited, instead of going halfway, and Polanco’s throw beat him to first.
In the fifth, with two out, a man on first and Lance Lynn up, Taillon really lost his effectiveness. Lynn, a career .084 hitter, lined a double into the gap in left-center, with the runner scoring when Andrew McCutchen couldn’t come up with the ball. The error quickly became moot, as Matt Carpenter singled up the middle to drive in Lynn and Pham doubled hard past third to score Carpenter, who’d stolen second without a throw. Taillon got the last out, but left for a pinch hitter in the bottom half.
Jhan Marinez and A.J. Schugel threw two strong innings each, but it made no difference. Lynn didn’t dominate — he fanned only three in six and a third — but he got weak contact whenever he needed it. The Pirates had chances, getting nine hits in all, but finished 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They had runners at the corners with one out in the second, but Jordy Mercer hit into a double play. In the fourth, the first two batters reached, but David Freese hit into a double play. In fifth, a pair of two-out hits put runners at the corners, but Josh Harrison, who looked awful every time up, flied weakly to shallow right.
In the seventh, Francisco Cervelli doubled with one out and Mercer singled him to third. That finished Lynn, but Matt Bowman, struggling with his control, got John Jaso to pop up to shallow left on a 3-1 pitch. Adam Frazier walked, but Harrison popped up. Trevor Rosenthal blew the Pirates away in the eighth and Tyler Lyons, also struggling with his control, got three outs after a leadoff double by Polanco in the ninth. With that, the Pirates fell back to five games under .500, which seems to be their point of equilibrium.