PITTSBURGH • The trouble with the bullpen roulette the Cardinals are spinning these days is that if any reliever could be used in any role, then there really are no roles at all.
In the past week, that has left Brett Cecil warming up earlier for a late-inning assignment that sometimes never arrived, and for creatures of habit who inhabit every clubhouse that can be tricky, as Cecil suggested Sunday. He has an idea what caused this jumble.
“That is our fault because we haven’t really solidified any roles for anybody,” the lefty said. “Just kind of grind and be ready when the phone rings. I think it all starts with that last inning. Once we get that solidified no matter who that is, the rest will take care of itself. That’s really what needs to happen. Need it. Definitely need it.”
His number, Red 27, came up Sunday.
The ball didn’t bounce his way.
For the second time in three days at PNC Park, the Cardinals’ choice for the ninth inning blew the game. Adam Frazier became the second Pirate of the weekend to deliver the first game-ending hit of his career with an RBI single up the middle that lifted Pittsburgh to a 4-3 victory. Yadier Molina’s solo home run in the eighth inning gave the Cardinals their first lead of the game, and to hold it manager Mike Matheny turned to Cecil, in the ninth, in a save situation, for the first time this season. Cecil (1-3) allowed three hits before he could get three outs.
“The one pitch I’d like back is that last one,” Cecil said.
The Cardinals’ 10th loss this season and second of the weekend when leading after eight innings spoiled an otherwise crisp, even classic, game for them. Carlos Martinez found his feel for the sinker midway through the game and powered ahead for seven innings with five strikeouts. He had the RBI hit to score Kolten Wong and tie the game 2-2. Molina put the Cardinals ahead with the first homer allowed in 167 plate appearances this season against Bucs reliever Juan Nicasio. Rookie Magneuris Sierra had four hits and was a part of two early rallies. All of that was obscured by the sludge of the ninth.
The win inched the fourth-place Pirates to within half a game of the third-place Cardinals. The Cardinals head to New York for a four-game stay against the Mets — a brief respite from the two races the Cardinals are now…