St. Louis 4, Pittsburgh 1
When: 8:15 PM ET, Friday, September 8, 2017
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
Doug Eddings, 1B -
Jeff Nelson, 2B -
Cory Blaser, 3B -
ST. LOUIS -- Luke Weaver had a peculiar problem Friday night.
"I had a little more movement on my fastball than usual," he said. "A few of them were leaking out over the plate. So I had to make an adjustment and just trust the movement."
A lot of pitchers would love to have Weaver's movement on their fastball these days.
Pitching 5 2/3 shutout innings, the St. Louis Cardinals' right-hander notched his fifth straight win in a 4-1 decision over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.
Weaver (5-1), who hasn't lost since July 27, scattered seven hits and fanned seven with no walks. In his last four starts, all victories, Weaver has yielded just four runs in 25 1/3 innings, notching 36 strikeouts.
"He was really good," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said of Weaver. "His fastball was good, and he had good finish with it. His changeup plays, and he was able to get strikes with his secondary pitches when he was behind in the count. He's a good young pitcher."
No runner got to third against Weaver until Josh Bell's two-out single in the sixth advanced Max Moroff from corner to corner. It happened on Weaver's 108th and final pitch, as manager Mike Matheny hooked him for Matt Bowman.
Weaver's pitch count was bloated by 15 two-strike foul balls.
But Bowman quashed the threat by fanning David Freese. The St. Louis bullpen brought Weaver's latest win home with 3 1/3 innings.
Newcomer Juan Nicasio, a former Pirate who was lost to Philadelphia late last month on a waiver claim and then traded to the Cardinals Tuesday, retired all four hitters he faced for the save in his debut.
"I really like high-leverage situations," Nicasio said through an interpreter. "There were no nerves out there. I felt really excited; I like to compete."
Outhit 9-5 by Pittsburgh, St. Louis (73-68) still won for the seventh time in nine games by taking advantage of its chances in the middle innings. The Cardinals worked counts on Trevor Williams (6-8), making up for an inability to string hits together.
In the third, Greg Garcia touched Williams for a leadoff double. Alex Mejia's grounder moved Garcia to third. Weaver's slowly-hit broken-bat bouncer to third forced Freese to settle for the out at first as Garcia scored the game's first run.
An inning later, Tommy Pham walked and moved to third when Jose Martinez singled on a full count with Pham running on the pitch. Randal Grichuk's one-out bouncer to third became an RBI fielder's choice when he beat the rap at first for a 2-0 edge.
In the fifth, Martinez doubled the lead on Williams' final pitch. He left a 0-2 fastball over the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Martinez, who is 15-of-31 in his last 10 games, laced it into center for a two-run single.
Williams entered the game having allowed just two runs in his last 20 innings. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and four runs with four walks and five strikeouts.
"His first three innings were very efficient," Hurdle said of Williams. "But they kept fighting. They had some takes, worked some counts. The fifth inning hurt."
The Pirates (67-75) avoided a shutout when pinch-hitter Adam Frazier stroked a two-out RBI hit in the seventh to score Elias Diaz.
St. Louis made up ground on the first place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central, drawing within four games thanks to their 2-0 loss to Milwaukee. It also moved within two games of Colorado for the NL's second wild card spot, pending the outcome of the Rockies' game at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Cardinals' starters have allowed eight runs in the last seven games. Weaver simply kept the roll going.
"We're trying to do our part and feed off each other," he said. "We just want to keep the momentum going."
NOTES: Pittsburgh activated OFs Gregory Polanco and Adam Frazier (hamstrings) from the 10-day DL. Polanco started in RF and hit third. The Pirates gave CF Andrew McCutchen his first day off since Aug. 25. ... St. Louis 3B Matt Carpenter and OF Tommy Pham (shoulders) were back in the lineup after not starting the last three nights in San Diego. SS Paul DeJong didn't play for the first time since July 7. ... Cardinals 2B Kolten Wong (back) didn't start for the fifth straight game, but was available for late-game duty if needed and could return to the lineup Saturday night.
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