A rookie pitcher a fiery veteran a couple outfield bloopers and Alex Presley's wild walk-off single in the 11th inning of the opener lifted the Pirates to a doubleheader sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday that also gave them the best record in baseball. The Pirates beat the Cardinals in the first game 2-1 and 6-0 in the second turning a half-game deficit in the National League Central race into a 1 1/2-game lead in the span of a few hours. They also moved to a season-high 22 games over .500. "This is a great baseball town" manager Clint Hurdle said. "This was a great baseball town for a long time. We're making every effort to make it a great baseball town again. ... We've covered some distance but we've got more to cover." In this highly anticipated five-game set against the Cardinals (62-43) the Pirates (64-42) already have assured themselves a series victory by winning the first three games. Rookie pitcher Brandon Cumpton pitched seven shutout innings against the best offense in the league as the Pirates won the second game. Cumpton struck out five walked one and allowed three hits to earn his first major league victory in a spot start. He was recalled from Class AAA Indianapolis earlier Tuesday to help the Pirates pitch through two games in one day. "I just tried to fill it up throw strikes and my defense made plays" Cumpton said. It was the best start of Cumpton's career which spans four outings all spot starts. He started the year 13th on the team's starting pitching depth chart but Tuesday he led the Pirates to one of their biggest wins this season. "I thought his overall command was the best we've seen since he's been up" Hurdle said. "All his pitches came into play." Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday misplayed two balls in left including a fifth-inning two-run homer that bounced off the heel of his glove and into the left-field bleachers. It was the 15th home run for Andrew McCutchen and it gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead. In the next inning Holliday slammed into the wall about three feet away from where Josh Harrison's ball connected with the padding as Harrison raced to a leadoff triple. From then on Holliday was heckled by many of the 33861 in attendance especially those in the left-field bleachers who apparently took advantage of 17 uninterrupted innings of beer sales. "We love the support" Hurdle said. "They've been great. We want more. "We've probably got to do more to earn more from them. Everybody's got their own level of confidence for when they're going to buy in. And there's probably still some waiting to see." In the first game Presley provided the win. After fighting his way to a full count he hit a ball up the middle that looked like a double-play opportunity for the Cardinals. But reliever Kevin Siegrist tried to snag the ball out of the air and instead deflected it away from second allowing Russell Martin to score and the Pirates to celebrate. "It's a good thing he tipped it" Presley said.
Pirates grab top record in majors after doubleheader sweep of St. Louis
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Jul 31