Bucs starter Steven Brault was in trouble practically from the beginning of the game. In the first inning, he walked Paul Goldschmidt, then threw a wild pitch that advanced Goldschmidt a bag. In the second, he hit Tommy Edman and allowed him to move up a base thanks to another wild pitch. He was able to keep the Cards from scoring in both innings, but what luck he had ran out in the third. St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright singled, and Dexter Fowler brought him home with a sharp single to center field. Kolten Wong also singled. Brault proceeded to balk for the first time this season, and Marcell Ozuna capitalized on this by pounding a three-run homer to right center, cementing a lead that the Cards wouldn’t relinquish.
The Pirates seemed to stir offensively from time to time, but not when it counted. In the first, Bryan Reynolds had a base hit that he tried to stretch into a double, which was initially called safe but then overturned on a Cardinals challenge. Starling Marte tripled and Josh Bell walked, but were left on base after Colin Moran grounded out to Goldschmidt. Kevin Newman singled in the third, then stole his fourteenth base of the year. That set the stage for Marte’s line drive single to right to score Newman and give him his 82nd RBI, a career high—and, as it turned out, the end of the Bucs’ scoring.
Brault wasn’t the only one making mistakes. Josh Bell committed his thirteenth fielding error in the third by throwing to someone who was not Brault covering first that allowed Paul DeJong to take a base; a double play stopped that particular bleed. However, the night’s theme of allowing Cardinals batters to advance courtesy of defensive blunders continued in the sixth, this time proving costly. After Brault walked Marcell Ozuna, Elias Diaz got his eighth passed ball to send Ozuna to second. Paul DeJong got another free pass to first thanks to Jose Osuna’s throwing error and stole second just to rub it in, then Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader hit consecutive singles, scoring Ozuna and DeJong to make it 6-1, Cardinals.
That proved to be the end for Brault, but the comedy of Bucs errors continued. Reliever Clay Holmes gave up two more runs to the Cardinals after hanging one to DeJong in the seventh that DeJong hit to a flailing Marte for a two-run double. Geoff Hartlieb gave up two walks and a wild pitch in his inning of work. Parker Markel came into the eighth, promptly hit Edmundo Sosa, gave up a single to Yadier Molina, and allowed what would have been a home run to Bader had an overzealous Cardinals fan not reached over and snatched it away. As it was, Sosa was able to score anyway on the hit, and pinch-hitter Rangel Ravelo grounded out to Newman to score Molina’s pinch runner Andrew Knizner for the final Cardinals run.
Wainwright scattered six hits in seven innings, with three strikeouts and one walk. The Cardinals’ strong bullpen allowed no Pirates hits in the last two innings, with only Daniel Ponce de Leon giving up a walk to Pablo Reyes, who pinch hit for Marte in the ninth.
The Bucs hope to bounce back on Sunday in the rubber match, with James Marvel (7-0, 2.67 ERA at Triple-A Indianapolis) making his highly anticipated major league debut against the Cards’ hot young righty Jack Flaherty. The first pitch will be at 1:35 p.m. Eastern at PNC Park.