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April 6, 2014

Pirates slip past Cards 2-1 to win series

PITTSBURGH — For his first start with the Pirates, Edinson Volquez beat Adam Wainwright. That’ll do nicely as an early return on that offseason contract he signed with the Pirates.

Tony Sanchez hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Sunday.

Singed to a one-year, $5 million contract as a free agent in December, Volquez was sharp in his first start for the Pirates as he gave up one run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings with one walk and four strikeouts. That came after Volquez pitched two scoreless innings of relief Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.

“What you saw was fastball command with downhill angle, big-time spin and tilt on the breaking ball, a good changeup and getting ahead with good pitches,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He pitched a gem.”

Volquez got a standing ovation when he walked off the mound.

“I think I did a great job and the fans appreciated what I did,” Volquez said. “I just wanted to keep making another good pitch, keep the ball down and get them to hit the ball on the ground. All my pitches were there.”

Sanchez’s double to deep center field with two outs came off Wainwright (1-1) and snapped a 1-1 tie.

“I’m still nervous playing up here,” Sanchez said. “My heart is racing. My head is spinning. It feels like the game is going 1,000 mph. So, it’s nice to be able to get some big hits.”

The hit by the rookie reserve catcher scored Pedro Alvarez, who led off the inning with a walk, and was Sanchez’s second winning hit of the week as he singled home the winning run in the 16th inning of Wednesday night’s victory over the Chicago Cubs.

“I can’t let what happen in the seventh inning happen, especially in a close game, a rivalry game like this,” Wainwright said. “I walked the leadoff man then left a ball out over the plate with two outs and Sanchez took a good swing at it. You can’t do that.”

Tony Watson (1-0) retired all four batters he faced, striking out three, and ran his string of consecutive scoreless innings to 24, dating to last season. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth to convert his first save.

Singed to a one-year, $5 million contract as a free agent in December, Volquez was sharp in his first start for the Pirates as he gave up one run and three hits in 52⁄3 innings with one walk and four strikeouts. That came after Volquez pitched two scoreless innings of relief Thursday against the Chicago Cubs.

Volquez’s 5.71 ERA last season with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers was the highest among the 81 pitchers who qualified for the ERA title. He also allowed 15 runs in 13 innings in exhibition games this spring.

Wainwright went seven innings and allowed two runs and five hits after pitching seven scoreless innings in his first start of the season at Cincinnati in today opener.

The Pirates opened the scoring in the fourth inning when Andrew McCutchen doubled with one out and scored on Neil Walker’s two-out double.

An RBI triple by the Cardinals’ Jon Jay in the sixth tied the score at 1-1 and chased Volquez.

Notes: St. Louis CF Peter Bourjos, who is off to a 0-for-13 start with his new team, got the day off. Jay started in his place. The Cardinals acquired Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels in an offseason trade. ... RHP Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh’s top pitching prospect, will undergo Tommy John surgery by David Altcheck in New York and he’ll miss 12 to 18 months. ... The Cardinals play their home opener today against the Cincinnati Reds with RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 0.00) facing LHP Tony Cingrani (0-0, 0.00). ... The Pirates are off today then open a three-game series Tuesday night at Chicago with RHP Charlie Morton (0-0, 0.00) pitching against Cubs RHP Edwin Jackson (0-0, 1.29).

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