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Bullpen ruins good game, Cardinals crush Pirates, 11-7

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Joaquin Benoit undid the Pirates’ good pre-rain delay work with a three-run seventh inning, he almost knocked Yadier Molina’s head off with a wayward fastball and the Pirates went from 5-4 up in a post-fifth-inning delay to an ugly 11-4 loss to the Cardinals that dragged into Friday morning.

The Pirates jumped on Adam Wainwright’s diminished stuff in the first three innings and Jameson Taillon struck out seven and walked three in five innings.

Josh Harrison waited on a slow curve from Wainwright and popped it just over the left-field wall for a two-run homer in the first.

After a Jedd Gyorko homer made it 2-1, the Pirates added three in the third, all with two outs. Harrison singled, Andrew McCutchen walked and Josh Bell, David Freese and Adam Frazier hit three straight singles, putting the Bucs up, 5-1.

Kolten Wong singled in a run to make it 5-2 in the fourth.

With the rain coming, Taillon struggled to quickly get to an official game, allowing two walks and two hits to push a couple runs in, and it was 5-4 when the grounds crew finally pulled the tarp after the end of the fifth.

After a 1 hour, 12 minute delay, A.J. Schugel got through the sixth, but Benoit blew it all up as St. Louis took a 7-5 lead in the seventh. Tommy Pham singled and Benoit hit Paul DeJong with a pitch. Dexter Fowler smacked a triple Frazier misplayed in the right-field corner, scoring both runners. Benoit missed dangerously with a fastball near Molina’s head and clearly didn’t have it; he was pulled after Molina recovered to get a single.

Wade LeBlanc had an awful, four-run ninth, serving up a monster home run to Pham, who reached the top level of the left-field rotunda, and things snowballed from there.

Daniel Hudson pitched a clean 1 2-3, cleaning up for Benoit. So there’s that.

Harrison and McCutchen had three hits each. Freese and Starling Marte both had two.

The Pirates have lost five straight. The Cardinals pulled within 1 1/2 games of the first-place Cubs in the NL Central, the Pirates staying 5 1/2 behind.