PITTSBURGH (AP) — It seemed every time the St. Louis Cardinals hit a ball hard Sunday a Pittsburgh Pirates fielder was there to make the play.
Sometimes it was just good conventional defense that stymied the Cardinals' hitters. Other times, the Pirates' shifts made the difference.
The Cardinals managed just three hits as Edinson Volquez pitched well for 5 2-3 innings before Tony Sanchez hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh inning to give the Pirates a 2-1 victory.
"They did seem to always have a guy in the right place," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team is hitting just .186 through the first six games of the season. "The hitters know the alignment when they step into the box, so I don't think the shift is having an effect on them. We just want our hitters to think about playing to their strengths instead of worrying about shifts."
The right-hander had a 5.71 earned run average with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers last season. That was the worst mark among the 81 major league pitchers who qualified for the ERA title.
However, Volquez looked like he was worth the one-year, $5-million contract Sunday following a spring in which he allowed 15 runs in 13 innings.
"What you saw was fastball command with downhill angle, big-time spin and tilt on the breaking ball, a good changeup and getting ahead with good pitches," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He pitched a gem."
Sanchez's double to deep center field with two outs came off Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (1-1) and snapped a 1-1 tie.
The hit by the rookie reserve catcher scored Pedro Alvarez, who led off the inning with a walk, and was Sanchez's second game-winning hit of the week as he singled home the winning run in the 16th inning of Wednesday night's victory over the Cubs.
Tony Watson (1-0) retired all four batters he faced, striking out three, and ran his string of consecutive scoreless innings to 24, since last season. Jason Grilli pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save.
Wainwright went seven innings and allowed two runs and five hits after pitching seven scoreless innings in his first start of the season at Cincinnati in Monday's opener. He struck out seven and walked two.
"I can't let what happen in the seventh inning happen, especially in a close game, a rivalry game like this," Wainwright said. "I walked the leadoff man then left a ball out over the plate with two outs and Sanchez took a good swing at it. You can't do that."
The Pirates opened the scoring in the fourth inning when Andrew McCutchen doubled with one out and scored on Neil Walker's two-out double.
An RBI triple by the Cardinals' Jon Jay in the sixth tied the score at 1-1 and chased Volquez.
NOTES: St. Louis CF Peter Bourjos, who is off to a 0-for-13 start, got the day off and Jay started in his place. The Cardinals acquired Bourjos from the Los Angeles Angels in an offseason trade. ... Former RHP Chris Carpenter, who retired at the end of last season and won the 2005 NL Cy Young Award, will throw out the ceremonial pitch at the Cardinals' home opener Monday against the Reds as RHP Michael Wacha (0-0, 0.00) faces LHP Tony Cingrani (0-0, 0.00). . RHP Jameson Taillon, Pittsburgh's top pitching prospect, will undergo Tommy John surgery at a date to be determined with David Altcheck performing the operation in New York and miss 12 to 18 months. ... Pirates C Chris Stewart (right knee) began a rehab assignment Sunday with high Class A Bradenton and LHP Jeff Locke (right oblique) will join him Thursday.