ST. LOUIS —
The Pittsburgh Pirates will take their quest for a winning season and resurgence in the NL Central race to Texas.
Charlie Morton won’t be going with them.
The Pirates starter headed back to Pittsburgh on Sunday because of an injured left foot, leaving before the St. Louis Cardinals finished off their 9-2 romp for a three-game sweep.
“You have to put this behind you,” right fielder Garrett Jones said. “We kicked their butts at our place and they got us back here.”
Morton (7-4) was pulled after allowing five runs on six hits and two walks in 12⁄3 innings.
Manager Clint Hurdle said he didn’t know the extent of the injury, and said it occurred when Morton was backing up a base.
The Pirates arrived at Busch Stadium this weekend with a
11⁄2-game division lead and a chance to cement their first winning season since 1992. They left trailing the Cardinals by 11⁄2 games and still stuck on 81 victories after their fourth straight loss.
Pittsburgh faces Rangers ace Yu Darvish starting tonight at Texas.
“We’ve got every opportunity to get things back and start rolling tomorrow,” Hurdle said.
Morton left after throwing a wild pitch that bounced just in front of the left-handed batter’s box, allowing Jon Jay to score and give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. He threw 46 pitches.
Morton hadn’t allowed more than two runs since the Cardinals tagged him for five in a
13-0 victory on Aug. 1 in Pittsburgh. He won his next three decisions over five starts, which included a no-decision after giving up two runs in seven innings on Aug. 13 at St. Louis. He has a 3.44 ERA through 16 starts.
Michael Wacha pitched seven shutout innings and drove in two runs to lead St. Louis.
The Cardinals outscored Pittsburgh 26-10 in the series.
“We weren’t sharp in any particular area of the game all weekend,” Hurdle said. “They were much sharper than us across the board. It’s very difficult to win a game when you are not functioning.”
Wacha (3-0) allowed two hits and walked two, both of which were erased on double plays. He struck out two and never had more than one runner on at a time.
Wacha got his second career hit with a single up the middle in a four-run fifth that scored David Freese and Matt Adams. St. Louis used 10 batters in the 28-minute inning – exactly how long Wacha needed to get through six innings of pitching.
Wacha also helped set up a three-run second with a sacrifice bunt that pushed Pete Kozma to third in front of consecutive doubles from Matt Carpenter and Jay.
The Cardinals jumped in front with two runs in the first. Carpenter and Jay singled to start the inning and Matt Holliday walked to load the bases. Carlos Beltran hit a sacrifice fly and Yadier Molina had an RBI grounder.
Pittsburgh scored twice in the ninth off reliever Sam Freeman. Garrett Jones hit an RBI double and Gaby Sanchez had a sacrifice fly.
Notes: This was the last time this season Pittsburgh and St. Louis were scheduled to play. ... Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen singled in the seventh to extend his hit streak to seven games. ... Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez committed his major league-leading 27th error in the seventh, allowing pinch-hitter Brock Peterson to reach.