Originally posted on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 8/29/12
Mlb-brewers-pirates-july

 The Pirates got another big night from Pedro Alvarez and their starting pitcher as they posted their second straight shutout win over the Cardinals on Wednesday night. The win gives the Bucs the season series over St. Louis (meaning they’d have an advantage if the two teams end up tied) and puts them just one game out of a playoff spot.

I can’t overstate what these two wins mean to the Pirates. With the team slumping and the Cardinals playing well, getting swept –or even dropping 2 of 3 in convincing fashion–to the team they’re chasing would have been pretty devastating. Monday’s game was a close, hard-fought loss that saw the Bucs’ leader and ace give up an early lead. Maybe Tuesday and Wednesday’s games weren’t “must-win,” but they were about as close as you could get to that in late August.  The Pirates responded with back to back shutouts against the NL’s highest-scoring team, vaulting them back to within one game of St. Louis with momentum and an easier remaining schedule on their side. It’s still not going to be easy from here, but Bucs fans have to be feeling infinitely better about their chances than they did on Monday night.

Wandy Rodriguez earned his first win in as a Pirate STARTing pitcher  tossing six shutout innings while allowing just three hits. He also walked three–all three being Jon Jay, who fouled off a million pitches in some remarkably impressive plate appearances. Other than that, though, Wandy was solid. He did not dominate via the K (only 3 strikeouts) but didn’t allow much hard contact, either. The Cardinals didn’t threaten much against him in general, only reaching second base once. Rodriguez has now posted two good starts in a row, plus the two scoreless innings in the 19-inning win, so I think it’s time to start feeling better about him.

It’s also time to start feeling better about the Pirates’ offense, mostly thanks to Pedro Alvarez once again. With the Pirates up 1-o in the third, Travis Snider and Garrett Jones managed to draw two tough walks. Pedro came up with two outs and laid off some tough pitches to get aheaad 3-1 in the count. For some reason, Joe Kelly gave in and left a meatball up in the zone, and El Toro crushed it to the back row of the RF seats. The game-changing swing made it 4-0, and was Alvarez’s 7th homer against the Cardinals this year (26 total).

The Bucs also got on the board with a couple of well-timed hits in the first and fifth innings. Snider and Jones both doubled in the first, then Alvarez doubled to the gap in the fifth and scored on Josh Harrison‘s base hit.

With the 5-0 lead, Wandy and the bullpen went into cruise-control mode. Tony Watson, Jason Grilli, and Joel Hanrahan finished the job, and the Pirates won the biggest game in PNC Park’s history. Well, until they come home next week, that is. Relevant September baseball is on its way to Pittsburgh.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 0 / Box / 2012 Record: 70-60 / Next: Friday, at Brewers, 8:10

MVP: Alvarez (+.196) / LVP: McCutchen (-.063) / Key play: Pedro’s homer

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