The Pittsburgh Pirates got seven strong innings from starter Brandon Cumpton and shut out the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 in the second half of their doubleheader on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
By winning both games, the Bucs improved their record to 64-42 and are now 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central. Clint Hurdle’s crew is 6-2 against St. Louis this season and it is also the first time for the team to be 22 games over .500 since 1992.
Cumpton earned his first major-league win to even his record to 1-1 and allowed just three hits over seven innings. The righthander issued five strikeouts and just one walk on 87 pitches; it was the first time he made it through seven innings in four starts for the Bucs.
The Bucs got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second when with two out there was a passed ball while Starling Marte was at bat, which allowed Jose Tabata to come home.
Pittsburgh added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth when with nobody out, Jordy Mercer singled to center field and scored Starling Marte, who had tripled. Andrew McCutchen got in on the action when he belted a two-run home run to left field, his 15th of the season, that bounced into the stands off the glove of St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday.
The Pirates put up a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh when with nobody out, Gaby Sanchez doubled to center to push McCutchen across the plate from first base. Then with two out, Tony Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to left scored Gaby Sanchez to make the score 6-0.
Righthander Jeanmar Gomez answered the call from the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and preserved the shutout on 22 pitches in his two innings of work.
Cardinals starter Tyler Lyons saw his record drop to 2-4 this season. The righthander gave up four runs (three earned) on eight hits, while striking out five and walking one in six innings. The Cards have lost six straight and have scored just five runs in their last 56 innings.
The fourth contest of the five-game series will be at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. The Cards (62-43) will send righthander Adam Wainwright (13-6, 2.51 ERA) to the mound while the Pirates will go with lefthander Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.15 ERA).
The 25-year-old lefthander will be making his 21st start of the season on Wednesday; he has allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last eight starts. The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh in the region and on ESPN nationally.
From The Clipboard: Fifteen of the last 20 games played by the Pirates have been decided by one or two runs…Monday night’s crowd of 32,084 was the largest Monday night crowd in PNC Park history…Starling Marte’s 36 multi-hit games has him tied for fourth in the National League…There was a crowd of 33,861 for the doubleheader on Tuesday night.