Jason Motte delivers a scoreless inning in his first rehab appearance at AAA Memphis

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Jason Motte — who needed Tommy John elbow surgery last spring and had to miss the entire 2013 season — is very close to rejoining the Cardinals.

According to Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest, the right-hander threw a scoreless inning on 14 pitches Tuesday afternoon in his first appearance with the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. He struck out three batters in four scoreless appearances for Double-A Springfield before shifting his minor league rehab assignment this week to the Triple-A level.

Motte is scheduled to pitch for Memphis again on Thursday and could be activated from the disabled list next week. He’ll pitch in a setup role initially but might quickly become a backup option at closer for the Cardinals. St. Louis’ current ninth-inning man, Trevor Rosenthal, is 10-for-10 in save opportunities but has an ugly 4.96 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 16 1/3 frames.

Video: Cubs score run on Pirates’ appeal throw

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2019 has been one long nightmare for the Pirates. They’re in last place in the NL Central, have had multiple clubhouse fights, and can’t stop getting into bench-clearing incidents. The embarrassment continued on Sunday as the club lost 16-6 to the Cubs, suffering a three-game series sweep in Chicago.

One of those 16 runs the Pirates allowed was particularly noteworthy. In the bottom of the third inning, with the game tied at 5-5, the Cubs had runners on first and second with two outs. Tony Kemp hit a triple to right field, allowing both Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to score to make it 7-5. The Pirates thought one of the Cubs’ base runners didn’t touch third base on their way home. Reliever Michael Feliz attempted to make an appeal throw to third base, but it was way too high for Erik González to catch, so Kemp scored easily on the error.

The Pirates lost Friday’s game to the Cubs 17-8 and Saturday’s game 14-1. They were outscored 47-15 in the three-game series. According to Baseball Reference, since 1908, the Pirates never allowed 14+ runs in three consecutive games and only did it two games in a row twice before this series, in 1949 and in 1950. The Cubs scored 14+ in three consecutive games just one other time, in 1930.