ST. LOUIS - Two bad innings from the relief corps produced a 7-5 Cardinals loss as the Pirates leapfrogged the Cards into second place in the Central Division Wednesday.
With a four-run lead and two runners on via walks in the sixth, Mike Matheny opted to lift lefty starter Jaime Garcia for a righty-righty matchup between Matt Bowman and Starling Marte.
It started well, as Marte lined out to second baseman Kolten Wong. But on the next batter, Bowman hung a slider over the outside half of the dish that Josh Harrison was able to float over Wong for an RBI. Bowman then threw the same exact pitch to Sean Rodriguez, who lined it sharply to right field to plate another run.
“I thought they were decent pitches but I think maybe there were just looking for it, looking out over the plate,” Bowman said after the game. “I was trying to do something away so maybe I should have tried something different there. It’s unfortunate.”
Bowman survived the next two batters and the Cards left the inning with a one run lead intact.
In his first big league season Bowman began red hot, but has cooled as the halfway point approaches. The right-hander will have to figure out how to improve when holding an inning. With the bases empty, hitters have an average of .188, but with runners on the average climbs up .224.
“I’ll come in and look at the video,” the 25-year-old said. “Maybe it’s a sequencing issue. Maybe I’m showing the pitch a little bit more, but there are adjustments to be made. They trust me coming in here and I let in both those runs. It’s disappointing. Some type of change needs to be made.”
Bowman wasn’t the only reliever to turn in a disappointing performance. Jonathan Broxton picked the ball up in the seventh and issued the team’s third free pass in two innings before surrendering consecutive hits to Andrew McCutchen and Jung Ho Kang The latter was floated double to the right center gap that erased the Redbird lead.
Sam Tuivailala and Seung Hwan Oh put up a scoreless frame each, both recording a strikeout. But the Cardinals were unable to produce any more runs, suffering their third loss of the series.