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Cards try to get bats going against Pirates

(SportsNetwork.com) - Even though the St. Louis Cardinals are 4-5 over their last nine games, their pitching staff has done its job. The offense has been the issue for the reigning NL champions.

The Cardinals have pitched three shutouts over the last nine contests and have let up more than three runs just once in that span.

The offense, though, has certainly had difficulties producing runs. The Cardinals have scored 13 runs over their last six contests. That includes a 1-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night at Busch Stadium in the opener of a three-game series.

Francisco Liriano, who hasn't won in five starts this season, toes the rubber for the Pirates. The 30-year-old left-hander didn't get a decision on Monday against the Reds when he lasted seven innings and gave up seven hits and five runs -- four earned -- to go with four strikeouts and a pair of walks. He has worked at least six innings in each of his appearances in 2014.

Liriano, who was named the National League Comeback Player of the Year in 2013 after going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA, has had success against the Cardinals with a 4-1 mark and a 1.95 ERA in five career regular season starts. The loss came April 5 this year in Pittsburgh in a 6-1 final. Liriano yielded seven hits and four runs in six frames.

Tyler Lyons counters for the Cardinals. The 26-year-old southpaw began the season at Triple-A Memphis and was recalled on Monday to take the place of the injured Joe Kelly. Lyons limited the Mets to a pair of runs over six innings in a 2-0 loss. He had a career-best seven strikeouts Monday, but also walked four batters, the most for him in the majors.

This will be the second time Lyons faces the Pirates. His only previous start came July 30 last year when he suffered a 6-0 defeat at PNC Park after allowing three earned runs in six innings.

St. Louis' Yadier Molina carries a team season-best 15-game hitting streak into today's game. That ties his career-best, set in 2007. He's attempting to become the first Cardinals catcher with a hit streak of more then 15 games since Erik Pappas (16 games in 1993), who currently is the hitting coach for Double-A Springfield. Walker Cooper in 1944 hit in 20-straight, the longest all-time hit streak by a Cardinals catcher.

Matt Holliday finished 3-for-3 and plated the game's only run with a double in the first last night. Shelby Miller spun 5 2/3 strong frames. Miller (2-2) struck out four and scattered three hits with four walks over his scoreless outing.

Four St. Louis relievers combined to keep the Pirates off the board from there, culminating in Trevor Rosenthal's perfect ninth inning that gave the right-hander his seventh save of the season.

"You gotta tip your cap to what the bullpen did," Miller said. "They came in and did an excellent job."

Jhonny Peralta added a pair of hits for the Cardinals, who had lost two straight and four of their last five games.

Gerrit Cole (2-2) took the hard-luck loss, giving up just one run on six hits and three walks over seven innings.

"When you leave it out on the field and you can control what you can control and you don't get the result, yeah it hurts," Cole admitted. "That's why we play 162 of these. Stuff happens and it doesn't always go your way."

Jose Tabata collected two of the four hits for the Pirates, who dropped their fourth straight game after going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Pittsburgh took two of three at home from the Cardinals earlier this month and went 10-9 in the series a year ago.

04/26 08:21:44 ET