PITTSBURGH (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals' clutch hitting has gone missing.
After batting .330 with runners in scoring position last year, they are hitting .229 in those situations 37 games into this season.
On Saturday night, they went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 baserunners in a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cardinals fell to 3-5 on their nine-game road trip and lost for the 11th time in their last 14 games in Pittsburgh.
"We see some clutch hits at times, but on a consistent basis, we expect it," manager Mike Matheny said. "Easy to talk about but tough to execute and pull off. But it's avoiding us, for sure."
The big hits avoided the Cardinals after the second inning when they scored all three runs on an RBI single by Mark Ellis, a double play ball and a wild pitch to go in front 3-0.
After the Pirates went ahead 4-3 with a four-run fourth inning against Lance Lynn (4-2) that was capped by run-scoring singles by Josh Harrison and Pedro Alvarez, the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth inning against starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.
However, Jared Hughes (2-1) came in and got Matt Adams to hit an inning-ending groundout. Five Pirates pitches combined to shut out the Cardinals for 4 1-3 innings and Pittsburgh won its season-high fourth in a row.
Mark Melancon earned his fourth save with a scoreless ninth, striking out Allen Craig with runners on first and second for the final out.
"Of course, you'll be upset when you're not driving runners in when they're in scoring position and we've had trouble with that all season," Adams said. "But it's still early. We have guys who can hit in the clutch."
Lynn allowed four runs in six innings and is winless in four starts since winning his first four starts of the season. He gave up nine hits and two walks while striking out five.
"What can I do? I gave up a bunch on infield singles," Lynn said. "It's not like I was giving up double-double-double-double. I was giving up infield singles — that's just really bad luck, and I've had those games and I've had nights when I've given up double-double-double and given up three runs.
"As a pitcher you'd much rather give up double-double-double because singles (are upsetting)."
NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina, who is 0 for 12 in his last four games, got a day off. ... Cardinals SS Jhonny Peralta extended his hitting streak to eight games with a fifth-inning single. . Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia will make his next rehab start Monday for Triple-A Memphis on Monday after it was originally announced he would pitch for Double-A Springfield on Sunday. Garcia has been on the DL all season while recovering from shoulder surgery. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez will be activated from the disabled list and start Thursday at Milwaukee. He has been out with right knee inflammation since April 20. ... The three-game series ends Sunday night with St. Louis RHP Shelby Miller (4-2, 3.20) facing RHP Charlie Morton (0-4, 3.45). It will mark the first time ESPN has televised a Sunday night game from Pittsburgh since 1996.