Cardinals let liriano off hook, trail 3-0 _ cardinal beat _ stltoday. com

PITTSBURGH • The Cardinals had their shot at Pittsburgh lefthander Francisco Liriano on Sunday. But they couldn’t pull the trigger in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings as they stranded eight runners in that time. The latest misfire came in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out on walks to Matt Holliday and Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina’s single to left. But Kolten Wong, who had fanned with the bases loaded to end the fourth,

popped to second baseman Josh Harrison, who, belatedly, dropped the ball, trying for a double play. But the umpires correctly already had called the infield fly rule, which is an automatic out. Jedd Gyorko then grounded to the left of third baseman David Freese, who made a short-hop pickup and threw to second for a forceout. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright had stiffened after allowing two runs in the second but Pittsburgh still led 2-0 into the home sixth on a day when the game-time temperature was 39 degrees, albeit with the sun shining.

Pittsburgh added a run in the sixth on a triple by Francisco Cervelli and a sacrifice fly by Josh Harrison. Center fielder Randal Grichuk, who made the catch, threw out Gregory Polanco, who had tagged at first and tried to make second. The umpires reviewed the call through the replay headquarters in New York and the double play stood. But so did the run and Wainwright finished his stint having thrown 96 pitches.

Seung Hwan Oh made his big-league debut in the seventh and walked two Pirates. But he also struck out two, David Freese and Starling Marte and the game went to the eighth with Pittsburgh still leading 3-0. PIRATES JUMP AHEAD Wainwright danced out of trouble in the first inning Sunday but not in the second inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped to a 2-0 lead. Gregory Polanco doubled to open the inning and moved to third on Josh Harrison’s groundout. Wainwright pitched around No. 8 hitter Jordy Mercer, walking him. But Francisco Liriano, the Pirates’ pitcher, grounded a single to right, driving in the first run of the major league season. The umpires reviewed whether Mercer was hit by the ball and found that he wasn’t. Mercer made it to second on the play and scored the second run on John Jaso’s bloop single.

The Cardinals had a chance to cut into that lead in the third but a Matt Carpenter double play snuffed out the rally. Jedd Gyorko had walked and gone all the way to third as catcher Francisco Cervilli winged Wainwright’s sacrifice bunt attempt into second field. But then Carpenter grounded to shortstop Mercer, who stepped on second and fired to first, where Carpenter was in arrears by a step. The Cardinals got their first two hits in the fourth when Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk singled with one out. After Stephen Piscotty struck out, Yadier Moina walked to fill the bases for Kolten Wong, who went down swinging as Liriano’s eighth strikeout through four. PHAM OUT IN SECOND WITH INJURY Cardinals outfielder Tommy Pham’s first opening-day start lasted 1 ½ innings. Pham tapped out on the first pitch he saw from Francisco Liriano and that was the last pitch he saw. Before the Pirates batted in the second, Pham had gone out of the game with a left oblique tightness and Matt Adams was at first base with Matt Holliday moving from first base to left field.

REVIEW GOES AGAINST CARDS Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn’t wait long to issue his first challenge of the season Sunday. With one out in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first inning, home-plate umpire Jerry Layne ruled that Andrew McCutchen had been nicked by a pitch. Matheny disagreed. It took the umpires only 1 minute 25 seconds to have the call confirmed from the replay center in New York and McCutchen had first base. Ordinarly, the Cardinals would have lost their future challenges but Joe Torre, a Major League Baseball vice president, said that because the Cardinals’ replay equipment wasn’t working as well as the Pirates, they would not lose the challenge and all further challenges would be dealt with as umpires’ reviews are handled from the seventh inning on. Former Cardinal David Freese, facing his team for the first time, bounced a single through the middle as McCutchen was on the run from first base. McCutchen wound up at third but Adam Wainwright, who hadn’t yielded a run in his 13 previous innings over his last two opening day starts, retired Starling Marte on a liner to shortstop Jedd Gyorko and Francisco Cervilli on a popup to Gyorko.

The Pirates had turned in two good defensive plays in the top inning, with first baseman John Jaso stopping Matt Carpenter’s hard grounder and third baseman Freese, making an on-rushing, barehand pickup and strong to first on Tommy Pham’s slow bouncer. HOLLIDAY AT FIRST BASE Holliday made his regular-season debut at first base Sunday in the Cardinals’ opener here against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Holliday spent about half of spring training playing at his new position after spending his entire career in the left field. This meant that Pham played left field, hitting second. Neither Adams, though he was four for 10 against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, nor fellow lefthanded hitter Brandon Moss was in the lineup. Stephen Piscotty moved to fifth.

Manager Mike Matheny said, “I just like the righthanded at-bats against (Liriano). Even though Matt (Adams) has had some success, we still might be able to use him late in the game, too.” Matheny said Piscotty, who often hit second this spring and also late last season, was flexible enough that he could even lead off. “But we also like him in a spot where he could drive in runs,” said Matheny. Holliday, who moved to left field in the second when Pham was hurt, is likely to play first base against at least some lefthanded pitching, Matheny said. If so, he said, “Let’s ty to get as many righthanded bats in the lineup, as possible.” The first-base subject first was broached by Holliday, who was in Florida, to Matheny via telephone last November. Matheny thought it made some sense and the concept gathered momentum when Holliday worked there almost exclusively in pre-exhibition game drills and more steam when Holliday started many Grapefruit Leagues at the position. “He felt really good about where he was and it showed the way he played,” Matheny said.

Matheny said there would be days when Holliday plays first and Moss in left field. Adams is limited to first base. WALDEN WILL BE OUT SEVERAL MONTHS The Cardinals have reached their 25-player limit by placing six players on the disabled list _ pitchers Lance Lynn (right elbow surgery), Jordan Walden (right shoulder strain) and Mitch Harris (right elbow strain), catcher Brayan Pena (upcoming left knee surgery) and shortstops Ruben Tejada (left quadriceps strain) and Jhonny Peralta (torn ligament, left thumb). General manager John Mozeliak said Sunday that Walden would be out several months with a Grade 2 tear of his lat muscle. The tear was revealed during an examination Walden had this past week in Dallas, and it is related to the rotator cuff trouble that has persisted for almost a year.

It is likely that the rotator cuff damage he has attempted to pitch through led to a strain in the lat, and Walden’s aggressive propulsion-style of delivery creates stress on his right shoulder. Mozeliak said that Walden will not require surgery to repair the tear, suggesting that the righthander will again attempt a rehab and strengthening program. Walden’s two-year, $6.6 million contract with the Cardinals expires at the end of this season. Pena said he would leave here Monday and have surgery on Tuesday. OUTFIELDERS ALL GET FIRST STARTS The opening-day starts were the first for the entire outfield — Pham, Randal Grichuk and Piscotty. Pham, who is the only part-time player among the three, said, “It’s memorable.

I always believed that if I’m playing well, I can be able to contribute to the team in many ways. And everyone’s seen that. I’ve been playing well lately and I’m just trying to keep it going.” CARDINALS LINEUP