ST. LOUIS (AP) — At home, Erik Bedard is 2-2 with a stingy 2.31 ERA. Away from PNC Park, the outs come grudgingly.
The Pittsburgh left-hander lost his fifth in a row on the road, during which he’s given up more than a run per inning, in a 5-4 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday that denied the Pirates their first series sweep of at least three games in St. Louis since 1997.
“We haven’t noticed anything that has jumped out at us other than the results and the command,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “At home he’s been more efficient, breaking ball command has been better, changeup has been into play more.
“All in all, the package wasn’t quite what we needed.”
Bedard (4-9) labored for 100 pitches in 4 2-3 innings in 98-degree heat and give up five runs. He has allowed 25 runs in 23 2-3 innings, a 9.51 ERA, in his last five starts away from home since his last road victory May 3 in St. Louis.
In his last three starts in Pittsburgh, Bedard has given up just three runs in 19 innings.
“Is it that big of a split? Really?” Bedard said. “I didn’t know, I haven’t even looked at it.”
The good news: Bedard’s last start before the All-Star break will come in Pittsburgh.
“I felt like I pitched good, but when you give up five runs, the results aren’t good,” Bedard said. “So you just work on that and get better the next time.”
Allen Craig homered for the second time in three days and All-Star Yadier Molina also connected, both off Bedard.
Catcher Michael McKenry, who hit a three-run homer for Pittsburgh, said Bedard was better than the results.
“The ball that Molina hit, I went down to block it,” McKenry said. “They’re a good hitting team. You knew the monster was going to awake some time.”
Jason Motte got the last four outs for his 17th save in 21 chances to end the Pirates’ four-game winning streak, tied for their best of the year. Motte was the last in a flurry of moves by rookie manager Mike Matheny that left three players seeing time at two positions.
Matt Holliday and rookie Shane Robinson had an RBI apiece in a two-run fifth that gave the Cardinals the 5-4 lead. Robinson had been 4 for 32 with runners in scoring position before getting his first career go-ahead hit.
McKenry’s sixth homer had capped a four-run fourth that put the Pirates ahead for the first time and also gave them a homer in nine straight games. They’ve totaled 15 homers in their longest streak since another nine-gamer in June 2008.
Hurdle also was inventive with substitutions, using two players at two spots. Pedro Alvarez had two hits and a walk for the Pirates before coming out with leg cramps after singling to start the eighth.
“That’s all it was,” Hurdle said. “It was tightening up, so we didn’t want to push him.”
Jake Westbrook (7-6) beat the Pirates for the first time in six career decisions, allowing four runs in six innings. Westbrook has won three straight decisions.
Motte got the bullpen’s biggest out when Josh Harrison popped out to shallow center with two on to end the eighth.
The Pirates also had a chance to tie it in the seventh, when Robinson dropped Garrett Jones’ fly ball to center for a two-base error with two out and none on. Given another chance during the next at-bat, Robinson secured the ball on pinch hitter Casey McGehee’s routine fly ball against Mitchell Boggs.
The Pirates gave No. 3 hitter and All-Star Andrew McCutchen a day off after the center fielder left Saturday’s game with a strained left wrist from making a diving catch. Cardinals All-Star Carlos Beltran also got a day off.