ST. LOUIS — Mitchell Boggs' frustration finally showed Sunday after another ineffective performance in relief.
Boggs allowed a bloop single and a broken-bat hit that led to Pittsburgh's five-run ninth inning in its 9-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. Boggs' ERA for 10 2/3 innings soared to 12.66.
"It's not easy. I'm obviously not ecstatic about how it's going," Boggs said. "Yeah, it's hard to be positive. But at the same time, you have to do everything you can to fight every single day."
Boggs' voice raised as he continued his thought.
"And I'm doing that," he said. "If anybody can't see that, they're crazy."
With the Pirates already leading 4-0, Clint Barmes' singled just out of the reach of diving second baseman Matt Carpenter to start the ninth. Starling Marte cracked his bat but bounced a single through the left side.
Jose Tabata, who homered against Shelby Miller in the fifth, struck out. But Garrett Jones walked on a close 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Gaby Sanchez hit a weak roller to shortstop Pete Kozma, whose only play was to first as Barmes scored to make it 5-0.
Matheny summoned left-hander Marc Rzepczynski from the bullpen to face Alvarez, a left-handed hitter. Alvarez singled to drive in Marte and Jones, and it was 7-0. Russell Martin followed with a two-run homer against Rzepczynski.
"He was throwing better today," Matheny said of Boggs. "He was in the zone. He did (give) a walk; we were being careful with the batter. It's one of those (outings) that probably wasn't reflective of his stuff going in a better direction. He just has to keep fighting."
Boggs agreed. He has to build on the positives.
"I made a lot of good pitches today," he said. "The blooper into right, the shattered bat into left, the strikeout. It was a great at-bat by Jones, then a ball that was hit so bad we could only get one out.
"But right now, I've got to do something to get it going back in a good direction for me."
Confidence doesn't seem to be an issue for Boggs.
"I certainly don't think I'm at a disadvantage," he said. "I certainly don't think when I go out there that the (opposing) guys are fighting to get to the bat rack because there's a guy out there that's terrible. I don't feel that way.
"It helps to know that (Matheny) is behind me and these guys are behind me, and I'm going to keep fighting. That's all I can do. I've said it time and time again, and I'll keep saying it.
"The results I'm getting right now aren't what I want them to be. ... It's going to turn. I don't care what anybody says. I can go out there and compete with anybody, and it's going to happen."
It's not like Boggs is the only unproductive reliever. Fernando Salas, who allowed a seventh-inning homer to Jones, is 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA. Rzepczynski has a 7.88 ERA and has allowed six of seven inherited runners to score. Joe Kelly's ERA is 8.31. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal's is 4.05.
Another bad statistic: Relievers have retired the first batter they've faced just 11 times in 42 chances (26 percent).
"It's unfortunate luck," Rzepczynski said. "We're giving up hits, some broken-bat base hits, some bloop hits. Then when we make a mistake over the middle, it's getting hit hard. We've got to grind through it. It's a long season. We'll be fine once we get on the right track. I think our pen's really good still."
Could the Cardinals make a roster move --or two --to shake up the bullpen heading into the Cincinnati series that begins at 7:15 p.m. Monday? Anything's possible.
"We always think, all the time, (about) what our club needs," Matheny said. "We try to evaluate everybody on a daily basis and evaluate ourselves to make sure we're doing what we can do. We never rule anything out. We keep our eyes on everything."
Keith Butler, a right-hander, has allowed just one hit in eight innings at Class AA Springfield and Class AAA Memphis. Eric Fornataro, another right-hander, is 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA at Memphis. Veteran Victor Marte, who spent much of last season with the Cardinals, has a 3.18 ERA and five saves at Memphis.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.