After being no-hit for 5 2/3 innings, the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night had a chance to deal what could have been a fatal blow to the Pittsburgh Pirates' playoff aspirations.
The Birds plated two runs in the seventh inning to tie middle game of the Pittsburgh series and were inches away from taking the lead when Matt Carpenter's bid for a two-out hit was scooped up on a good play by the Bucco second baseman.
Instead of taking the lead, the Redbirds had to settle for a tie. Then, with middle reliever Seth Maness in the game in the bottom of the eighth instead of shut down set up man Pat Neshek, the Bucs were able to score three times and rescue a win that seemed on the verge of eluding them.
It was a shame to see the Cardinals waste another good effort by starting pitcher Lance Lynn who allowed two runs on six hits scattered over six innings. But that's what happens when, for the second night in a row, the hitters took the first two-thirds of the game off.
Frankly, the Birds were fortunate to get a win in one of the first two games with the way the offense has again begun to sputter and wheeze.
A loss could have left the Pirates 5 1/2 games behind the Redbirds and 7 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers with just a month to play. Couple the size of the mountain that the Pirates would have to climb with the fact that two of their best offensive players -- Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez -- left the field with injures... Well, let's just say that it wouldn't look good for them. Especially if the Cardinals could have swept the series with a win on Wednesday.
Now the Birds need to rebound in the finale to keep the Pirates from creeping up on them -- and the Brewers from sneaking out of striking distance.
On the bright side, a pair of the Cardinals' kids were able to shine in the losing effort. Oscar Taveras had a monster at-bat against a lefty pitcher to help keep the seventh inning rally alive. Then Randal Grichuk, in his first game back to replace disabled fly chaser Shane Robinson, collected a two-out, RBI hit to tie the game.
It's a bummer that Robinson had to be disabled because of a shoulder injury suffered Monday trying to steal a base. But it's going to be very interesting to see what impact Grichuk -- and his Class AAA teammates can make -- when they get called up in September.