Starling Marte goes after a sixth straight multi-hit game when his Pittsburgh Pirates host the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night at Historic Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa. as part of the Little League Classic. Marte had three hits, including a homer, as the Pirates snapped a six-game slide with Saturday’s 6-4 victory, and the outfielder is 11-for-22 with three RBIs over the last five contests.
Pittsburgh had allowed 46 runs during its losing streak and hopes it can carry Saturday’s success about 3 ½ hours away at the minor-league home of the Williamsport Crosscutters of the Single-A New York-Penn League, which will seat about 2,500. “It’s going to be cool, that’s for sure,” Pirates’ scheduled starter Ivan Nova told MLB.com. “It’s going to be crazy. One thing for sure with the kids is you don’t know what to expect. Hopefully, they’ll be rooting for us.” Mike Leake (1-0, 3.12 ERA in three games against Pittsburgh this season) will start for the Cardinals, who fell 2 ½ games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs in the National League Central with Saturday’s loss after scoring 11 runs each in the first two contests of the series. St. Louis rookie Paul DeJong continues to impress as he belted his 20th homer in his 70th major-league contest Saturday and boasts a nine-game hitting streak (17-for-36).
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Mike Leake (7-11, 3.88 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Ivan Nova (10-10, 3.77)
Leake is winless in his last four outings, allowing 19 runs (18 earned) over 20 1/3 innings after getting pounded for eight tallies at Boston on Tuesday. The 29-year-old Arizona State product has completed more than five innings just twice in his last eight turns after accomplishing the feat in 15 of his first 16 outings of 2017. David Freese is 16-for-36 with a homer versus Leake, who is 10-5 with a 3.33 ERA in 31 career starts against Pittsburgh.
Nova pitched better Tuesday at Milwaukee, permitting two runs (one earned) over six innings but lost for the fourth time during a five-game winless streak. The 30-year-old from the Dominican Republic did not surrender a homer Tuesday after yielding 11 over his previous seven outings. Kolten Wong launched a homer against Nova, who took the loss despite limiting St. Louis to two runs over eight innings on April 17.
1. St. Louis CF Dexter Fowler, who is 7-for-14 in his last four games, missed Saturday’s game with back discomfort but could return for the series finale.
2. Pittsburgh OF/2B Adam Frazier homered Saturday and is 8-for-20 during a five-game hitting streak.
3. Cardinals OF Randal Grichuk and RHP Lance Lynn, along with Pittsburgh INF Max Moroff, all played in the Little League World Series at Williamsport.
PREDICTION: Pirates 6, Cardinals 4