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Flaherty solid, but Cards unravel late in loss

Special to MLB.com

PITTSBURGH -- During the first week of the season, Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty made a spot start in place of the injured Adam Wainwright. Flaherty pitched well, but the Cardinals lost. His next three starts were at Triple-A Memphis.

It was the same script for Flaherty's second Cardinals start Saturday at PNC Park. Again stepping in for Wainwright, who is now on the disabled list, Flaherty had a solid outing, although he admittedly lacked his best stuff and had to grind it out. The Cards again lost, 6-2, to the Pirates.

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PITTSBURGH -- During the first week of the season, Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty made a spot start in place of the injured Adam Wainwright. Flaherty pitched well, but the Cardinals lost. His next three starts were at Triple-A Memphis.

It was the same script for Flaherty's second Cardinals start Saturday at PNC Park. Again stepping in for Wainwright, who is now on the disabled list, Flaherty had a solid outing, although he admittedly lacked his best stuff and had to grind it out. The Cards again lost, 6-2, to the Pirates.

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This time, however, the ending might be different for Flaherty. Maybe he'll get to stay awhile. Manager Mike Matheny noted that with upcoming off-days, the Cardinals might not need a fifth starter and was non-committal on Flaherty's near future.

Asked if Flaherty has pitched well enough in his two starts to belong in the rotation, Matheny said, "He pitched well enough out of Spring Training to belong."

Video: STL@PIT: Matheny on Flaherty's outing after 6-2 loss

Flaherty worked five-plus innings and was charged with three runs, but he got scant help from his bullpen and defense. Flaherty, who was aided by three double plays, issued a pair of walks leading off the sixth inning with the Cards holding a 2-1 lead. The Pirates went on to tie the game through Josh Bell's single and take the lead with Francisco Cervelli's sacrifice fly, both off Dominic Leone, with Tommy Pham's error in center field facilitating matters.

Like in Friday's 6-5 extra-innings loss, set up by a three-run Pirates ninth that tied the game, Matheny summoned a parade of relievers. The result was the same, though. The Cardinals lost the lead, and Pittsburgh added two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth.

"He just kind of lost the feel late," Matheny said of Flaherty. "He did a nice job up until then. He didn't think that he had his good stuff. He was probably pitching around the edges a little bit, when you don't feel like you have your stuff, but I thought he did a nice job. He did exactly what we needed him to do. He kept us in the game."

Pham hit a run-scoring double in the third inning and Marcell Ozuna singled in the sixth to give the Cardinals a lead, but they managed just five hits and committed two errors.

Video: STL@PIT: Ozuna lines an RBI single to left field

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After five innings of one-run ball, Flaherty issued two walks to start the sixth that changed the game and ended his night. Both Adam Frazier and Gregory Polanco came around to score and give Pittsburgh a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

"Too many walks," said Flaherty, who walked four. "I felt like I really had to battle out there. But those two walks to start the inning after we go out and take the lead like that, that's just not acceptable. It's really frustrating. That's what I want to take away from this, those two walks at the end."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
In the seventh inning, Cardinals right fielder Dexter Fowler gave chase to Cervelli's foul popup, but his journey ended as the ball ended up in the seats. So did Fowler, flipping over the railing and laying on the concrete for a few scary moments before getting up and continuing.

"It hurt," said Fowler, who iced his left wrist afterward but said he expected to be OK for Sunday's series finale. "Lucky I didn't hurt my head."

Video: STL@PIT: Fowler flips over side wall, stays in game

HE SAID IT
"They could probably do anything except what they did. That was probably the worst possible scenario. I could imagine they could call time and say no pitch. But he wanted to call quick pitch. Must have been practicing that at home." -- Matheny, of plate umpire Gabe Morales' rare quick pitch call on Mike Mayers. An out by Colin Moran was negated, a ball was called and he eventually walked and scored to make it 6-2.

UP NEXT
The Cardinals hope Luke Weaver can break out of a two-start rut on Sunday in the finale at PNC Park against the Pirates at 12:35 p.m. CT. Weaver started the season by allowing four runs in his first three starts en route to two wins. In his last two outings, though, he has allowed 10 runs over 8 2/3 innings. He'll be opposed by the Pirates' Nick Kingham, who will make his Major League debut.

Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Flaherty