PITTSBURGH -- In a game that was tied or featured a lead change on six occasions, the Pittsburgh Pirates were unable to add to that total when it mattered most.
The Pirates stranded pinch hitter Brandon Wood at second base in the ninth inning and fell to the St. Louis Cardinals, 8-7, at PNC Park as St. Louis pulled ahead 2-1 in the National League Championship Series.
"We had our chances," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There have been tons of games like that this season that we've ended up winning, so to come out on the losing end is tough. But we're not out of this yet, so we'll just be battling back."
|NLDS Game Three
|St. Louis (5-3)||8||11||1|
|PITCHERS OF RECORD|
|W - Shelby Miller (1-1)|
|L - Evan Meek (0-1)|
|SV - Jason Motte (3)|
The Cardinals were the ones battling back today, after the Bucs had built an early 5-1 lead through four innings.
St. Louis punched across a run in the second with a little smallball, but the Pirates countered as Matt Diaz (2-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI) hit a two run homer in the bottom half of the inning for the Buccos' first lead.
Garrett Jones (2-3, R, HR, 4 RBI) added to that lead in the fourth with a three run bomb, continuing his playoff tear that has seen him hit four homers and knocked in 12 runs while batting. 520.
"Obviously, its nice to be contributing for the team when we really need it," Jones said. "But the most important thing is that we lost the game, and that's something we can't afford to do a lot of right now."
The Cardinals finally got to Pirates starter Kevin Correia in the sixth inning. Correia had been nearly unhittable through five, giving up just the one run on two hits. However, St. Louis strung together five base hits in six batters to score four runs (one on a throwing error by Miguel Tejada) and retie the ballgame. Joe Beimel had come in with the score 5-3, but the error and a basehit scored two runs to tie the game.
The Bucs rallied in the bottom half of the inning to retake the lead, as Jones doubled in Pedro Alvarez (2-2, BB, HBP, 3 R).
The teams continued their back and forth affair in the seventh, as St. Louis pulled ahead, 7-6. Albert Pujols (2-5, R, 3 K), who was largely held in check by striking out three times, doubled with one out and scored on a Dvid Freese single, and Freese scored on a single by pinch hitter John Jay (2-2, R, 2 RBI).
"[Jay] was big for them," Hurdle said. "We had a lefty matchup against him both times and he made us pay, just came in clutch for them tonight."
However, the Battlin' Bucs knotted the contest again in the bottom half, as Jose Tabata blasted a homer over the Clemente Wall.
The Cardinals answered for the final time in the eighth, with Colby Rasmus blasting an Evan Meek fastball out of the deepest park of the park in center field.
Despite a late comeback try with a Wood single and advance on an error by closer Jason Motte, Motte sealed the Pirates' fate by getting Neil Walker to pop out to end the contest.
"It's tough to lose after giving up a four run lead, but baseball's a nine inning game," Hurdle said. "We just need to play all nine innings well tomorrow, or we won't have many innings left this year."