Joe Musgrove started his Pirates career with a bang. He scattered five hits and no walks along with seven strikeouts over seven scoreless innings, registering a 79 game score as he tossed 50 of 67 pitches for strikes. If that wasn’t enough, he collected his first major league hit and scored what would be the winning run.
Faced off against Cardinals’ rookie John Gant, by 8:30 the game was already in the bottom of the sixth, a scoreless tie, when Musgrove led off the inning with a sharp grounder to right. Josh Harrison then lined a 1-1 pitch to the gap in right center, pulling into second with a double as Musgrove raced all the way around the bases to score the first run of the game.
Gregory Polanco grounded out, sending Harrison to third, but after Gant hit Francisco Cervelli with a pitch, Cards’ manager Mike Matheny lifted his starter, despite having thrown only 78 pitches en route to no walks and seven punch outs. Reliever Brett Cecil was greeted rudely, as Josh Bell hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Harrison and Corey Dickerson lined a triple into right scoring Cervelli and giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
After Musgrove went back out for one more scoreless inning, the Pirates struck again in the bottom of the seventh. Austin Meadows beat out a grounder to second which chased the lefty Cecil. With John Brebbia on the mound, Meadows stole second easily then went to third on another slow roller by Jordy Mercer, this time to the pitcher who took too long looking at Meadows while Mercer beat the eventual throw to first. Adam Frazier pinch hit a short fly and Harrison struck out, but Polanco walked to load the bases for Cervelli - who responded with a line drive double off the Clemente Wall in right to clear the bases and extended the lead to 6-0.
Tommy Pham got St. Louis on the board with a solo homer to center off Michael Feliz in the eighth, but the Bucs bats continued their assault as Meadows and Mercer hit back to back triples to left off Greg Holland, with Mercer scoring the eighth and final run of the night on Harrison’s single to center.
Kyle Crick mopped up in the ninth, allowing only a single.
The win gives the Pirates a 28-22 record, good for second place in the National league Central, 2 1⁄2 games behind the Brewers, who are tied in the ninth against the Mets.
The series continues Saturday at 4 p.m. when Trevor Williams faces Jack Flaherty.