Pirates outlast Cardinals 6-3 in 19 innings

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The Pirates and Cardinals had already split a pair of one-run games Friday and Saturday, but they were just setting the table for Sunday’s marathon, a 19-inning affair won by Pittsburgh 6-3.

Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead homer off Barret Browning in the top of the 19th to break the tie, and Andrew McCutchen later added a two-run single that seemed to settle the matter once and for all.

The Pirates also took the lead in the 17th, when Garrett Jones collected an infield single with the bases loaded, but the Cardinals were able to come back and re-tie the game on a Tony Cruz sac fly.

Wandy Rodriguez, who was expected to start Monday, pitched scoreless 18th and 19th innings for the victory. He had been 0-3 in four starts since being acquired by the Pirates. It was his first relief appearance since 2006.

The game was the longest played so far in 2012. 2011 featured a pair of 19-inning games, including one in which the Pirates lost to the Braves. It was the Cardinals’ longest game since they lost to the Mets 2-1 in 20 innings on April 17, 2010.

The Pirates improved to 67-54 with the victory, pushing them two games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central. They’re one game ahead of the Giants for the second wild card.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.