Paul Skenes stellar again in scoreless start, draws standing ovation on road from Cardinals fans

Paul Skenes was so good Tuesday night, even Cardinals fans had to tip their hats.

The rookie Pittsburgh Pirates sensation threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings against St. Louis while locked in a pitchers duel with Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas. Neither allowed a run or figured into the decision as Pittsburgh opened up the game in the ninth inning for a 2-1 win.

The start was the second of Skenes' rookie campaign in which he didn't allow a run. He pitched six scoreless no-hit innings in his second MLB start, a 9-3 Pirates win over the Chicago Cubs. He was pulled from that game after 100 pitches.

The Cardinals didn't go hitless against Skenes but they didn't do any damage when he was on the mound. Skenes repeatedly baffled batters with his combination of overwhelming power and movement on his breaking pitches.

He opened the game with consecutive strikeouts of Masyn Winn and Alec Burleson. He froze Winn with a third-strike curveball that Winn watched drop to the bottom of the zone.

Burleson then swung and missed on a third-strike curveball before Paul Goldschmidt lined out to end the inning. From there, the Cardinals managed four hits over the next five innings before Skenes recorded his eighth strikeout of the night. This one arrived via 99 mph heat on the outside corner that Nolan Gorman could not catch up with.

Nolan Arenado then doubled to end Skenes' night. Pirates manager Derek Shelton called on Aroldis Chapman to finish the inning after Skenes' 103rd pitch. A baseball-savvy Cardinals crowd appreciated what they witnessed and gave Skenes a standing ovation as he walked to the dugout.

Chapman closed the inning out without a run allowed, and the Pirates' bullpen limited the Cardinals to one run from there.

Skenes' final line: 6 1/3 innings pitched, five hits allowed, zero runs, eight strikeouts and zero walks. He threw 74 of his 103 pitches for strikes and dropped his season-long ERA to 2.43 in 33 1/3 innings across five starts.

He was arguably the second-best pitcher on the mound Tuesday night. Mikolas pitched six no-hit innings before allowing a leadoff triple to Bryan Reynolds in the seventh. The Pirates didn't convert the triple into a run, and Mikolas finished the night allowing one hit and one walk over seven scoreless innings while striking out six.

The Pirates broke through on the scoreboard with two runs in the top of the ninth. Gorman then led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run off closer David Bednar, and the Cardinals added two base runners on a walk and catcher's interference call. But Bednar struck out Michael Siani to close out the Pirates' win.