Johan Oviedo pitched well against the Cardinals on Friday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, but the Pirates were unable to capitalize on offense and fell 2-1.
Facing his former team, Oviedo (4-3) went six innings and was charged with a pair of runs. He allowed six hits, issued two walks, hit a batter and struck out three. The right-hander threw a career-high 103 pitches.
The Pirates (59-98) acquired the services of Oviedo from the Cardinals (91-66) on Aug. 1 in a trade that sent Jose Quintana and Chris Stratton to St. Louis.
In the bottom of the third, Ji-hwan Bae saved at least a run for Oviedo and the Pirates with a great catch in left field.
He came up to bat in the top of the fourth and used his speed to bunt for a hit. The savvy move allowed Ben Gamel, who doubled to begin the frame, to score from third. The Bucs took a 1-0 lead on the play.
The Pirates’ lead didn’t last long as Albert Pujols hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, the 701st home run of his Hall of Fame career.
The blast ended Oviedo’s scoreless innings streak at a dozen innings.
With two on, two outs and an 0-2 count in the fifth inning, Nolan Arenado dumped a soft-served base hit into right field to put St. Louis ahead 2-1.
Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty (2-1) limited Pittsburgh to just one run across six frames. He punched out six Pirates’ batters.
The Pirates had multiple opportunities to push across some runs, but went just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
In addition to his RBI bunt-single, Bae later hit an opposite-field double to give him a pair of hits on the night.
Kevin Newman pinch hit for Jose Godoy in the seventh and flew out to right, snapping his 10-game hitting streak.
The Bucs are now just two losses away from clinching their second-straight 100-loss season.
Luis Ortiz (0-1, 1.17 ERA) and his big fastball will be on the mound for the Pirates on Saturday night at 7:15 p.m. ET. He’ll be opposite southpaw Jordan Montgomery (8-6, 3.50 ERA).
- Catching Concerns: It is without a doubt that the Pirates’ catching situation needs to be addressed this winter. Godoy was behind the plate for Pittsburgh on Friday and while he did throw out an attempted base stealer, he had a rough night with the bat. In the second, Godoy was up with the bases loaded and struck out. In the fourth, Godoy again had a chance to drive in a run and chased three breaking balls out of the zone and again struck out.
- A Couple Ks: Prior to Friday night’s contest, rookie shortstop Oneil Cruz had gone five straight game without striking out. Prior to those five, he had struck out at least one time in all but nine games of 77 games to begin his season. In this one, Cruz struggled with the strikeouts again, going down three times on punch outs. On the bright side, Cruz did draw a pair of walks.
- B-Rey Ball Magnet: In the third inning, Flaherty plunked Bryan Reynolds in the foot with a cutter. It was the fifth time in six games that Reynolds has been hit by a pitch and the third straight contest. He became the first Pirates’ player to be hit by a pitch in three straight games since Starling Marte in 2015. His HBP on Friday was the 14th time Reynolds has been plunked this season, which is a career-high and is tied for the seventh-most in the National League this year.