Bucs’ nosedive continues

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Rookies Harrison Bader and John Gant hit back-to-back home runs, Gant pitched into the sixth inning and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-0 on Thursday night.

The Cardinals have won 17 of 21 and took their tenth consecutive series, their longest series winning streak since 2009, when they also won 10 in a row.

Gant (6-5) pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the first and a two-on, no-out jam in the third to win for the third time in his last four tries. He struck out six in 5-plus innings and has allowed one earned run in his last 12-plus innings.

Pirates starter Joe Musgrove (5-8) opened the game with 21 consecutive strikes, a first in the majors since pitch tracking began in 1988, according to Stats. That control didn’t do him much good, though. He gave up five runs in six innings.

Musgrove’s strike streak ended with a first-pitch ball to Bader in the third, and two pitches later, Bader went deep to left. Gant then homered on a 2-1 pitch, giving St. Louis consecutive home runs for the seventh time this season.

It was Gant’s second homer of the year, tying him with Miles Mikolas for most among St. Louis pitchers. After starting his career 0 for 30, Gant has homered twice in his last five at-bats. He is the third pitcher in the expansion era to have his first two career hits as home runs.

Jose Martinez singled and scored in the fourth and drove in two more with a single in the fifth to give the Cardinals a 5-0 lead. Martinez has hit safely in 20 of 25 games in August and has a team-high 18 multi-RBI games.

Pittsburgh lost for the seventh time in its last nine games. The Pirates stranded 12 runners and went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Up next

Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (10-9, 3.49 ERA) kicks off a three-game series tonight on the road against the Atlanta Braves and RHP Anibal Sanchez (6-5, 3.05 ERA). Taillon has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last 16 starts.

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