For the second consecutive start, Carlos Martinez fell victim to the flu.
Martinez departed after just 3 1/3 innings Friday, suffering from fatigue in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.
In his previous assignment Sunday, flu symptoms played a role in Martinez coming undone in the seventh inning of a 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
“The first inning, I felt good. I felt like I could go through this,” Martinez (4-2) said through translator Brayan Pena. “Then in the second inning, I started feeling a little tired. In the fourth inning, I felt dehydrated. That was the main reason.”
The Cardinals trailed 1-0 heading into the fourth. Gregory Polanco walked, Starling Marte singled and Francisco Cervelli walked to load the base.
Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist visited Martinez, who stayed in the game and retired Jung Ho Kang on a popout to second. But catcher Yadier Molina and third baseman Matt Carpenter visited the mound and were soon joined by manager Mike Matheny.
Matheny lifted Martinez, whose start was his shortest since he lasted 3 2/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs on May 4 of last season. Tyler Lyons relieved and escaped the jam.
“Carlos was really feeling the lingering effects of being sick, even before his last start,” Matheny said. “He looked like he was on the mend and thing were going in a good direction, and then just kind of didn’t have it.
“We didn’t have any real warning signs going in. Then once he got going, it started getting tough on him. He’s been doing a lot of coughing lately. That whole thing has been going through the clubhouse. We seemed to be on the back side of it, but it happened today.”
Lyons allowed Kang’s two-run homer to right in the sixth that made it 3-0, and after the Cardinals got within 3-2 in the seventh, Kang homered off Kevin Siegrist in the eighth.
Matheny said he had no reservations about using Martinez, who never considered telling Matheny he wouldn’t be able to take the ball.
“I couldn’t (do that),” Martinez said. “We’re facing a very good team. Everybody knows it’s a great series for us. I tried my best. But in the fourth inning, I started feeling a little weak and I was like, ‘I don’t want to hurt my team any more.’”
Martinez said he has lost 10 to 15 pounds since the flu began. He doesn’t believe he will miss his next start, but he does plan to limit his activity before the assignment.
“It would be a good idea for me to take a couple of days off and regroup and try get back to work and help my team to win, because that’s my main goal,” Martinez said. “I don’t want to (miss a start). I have to do what I have to do to get my strength back.”
Martinez and several other Cardinals, including Molina and Matt Holliday, attended the St. Louis Blues’ 3-2 loss to Dallas in the second round of the playoffs Thursday at Scottrade Center. Martinez didn’t believe it impacted how he felt Friday.
“I was there to support our hockey team. I was down there with my teammates,” Martinez said. “I don’t think that has anything to do with it.”
Same old story
Francisco Liriano (3-1) stymied the Cardinals to two runs on five hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out 10 to improve to 7-2 in his career against St. Louis.
“He was locked in,” Matheny said. “You could see in our first inning, you could tell he was making his pitches. I was barking thinking they were bad pitches. But the guys went up and vowed that he was painting on the corners.”
Tony Watson worked out of a first-and-second, no-out jam in the eighth to keep it 4-2, and Mark Melancon slammed the door on St. Louis in the ninth for his eighth save.
The Cardinals (15-15) fell eight games behind the Cubs in the NL Central.
Problem vs. Pirates
St. Louis fell to 0-4 against the Pirates and has been outscored 19-9. The Cardinals have fanned 49 times, an average of just over 12 per game.
The Cardinals’ team batting average against Pittsburgh is .179 (24-for-134).
Randal Grichuk scored the Cardinals’ first run when he scored from second on a wild pitch by Liriano in the seventh. The other run in the inning came on Ruben Tejada’s sacrifice fly.
Pirates 4, Cardinals 2
Jung Ho Kang walloped two home runs, including a two-run blast in the sixth, in his first game since Sept. 17 and Francisco Liriano struck out 10 in seven innings to improve to 7-2 in his career against St. Louis.
By the numbers
Liriano (3-1) allowed just two runs, five hits and two walks. ... Carlos Martinez (4-2) was the losing pitcher for the Cardinals, allowing one run (earned) on three hits in 3 1/3 innings. He left the game suffering from fatigue. ... Rookie Aledmys Diaz had three hits for St. Louis, which fell eight games out of first place. ... Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his eighth save for the Pirates.
Adam Wainwright (2-3, 6.68 ERA) vs. Jeff Locke (1-2, 4.73 ERA), 1:15 p.m. Saturday.