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Pirates’ Johan Oviedo aims to follow up gem in clash vs. Cards

Aug 28, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Johan Oviedo (24) celebrates after throwing a complete game shutout to beat the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

The development of right-hander Johan Oviedo has been a bright spot during another rebuilding season for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

That process will continue on Sunday afternoon when he faces the Cardinals to wrap up a three-game series in St. Louis.

The Pirates (63-73) won the first two contests of the set to extend their winning streak to five games. The Cardinals (58-78) have lost six of their last eight games.

Oviedo (8-13, 4.20 ERA) took another big step forward in his last outing, recording a two-hit gem Monday in a 5-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals. He used his fastball/slider tandem to notch his first complete game at the big-league level.

“(Oviedo) was attacking, getting ahead,” Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes told MLB.com. “He has really good stuff, so whenever he is able to get ahead, it’s going to be really hard for them to get multiple guys on throughout the game.”

In his previous start, Oviedo allowed one run on four hits while striking out five in five innings of a 6-3 win over St. Louis on Aug. 22.

That was his first win against his original team. The Cardinals dealt him to Pittsburgh ahead of the 2022 trade deadline.

“It feels amazing,” Oviedo said after the victory. “I’m not gonna to lie. I’m happy about it. But that’s the mentality for every game: Just give the team a chance to win.”

Oviedo is 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA in four career starts against the Cardinals.

The Cardinals originally slated Adam Wainwright to start Sunday’s game. Wainwright held the San Diego Padres to one run on eight hits and three walks over six innings Monday in a 4-1 loss in his last outing.

But Wainwright struggled to bounce back from that performance. The Cardinals pushed his next start back to Thursday, when he will face the Atlanta Braves in front of many friends and family in his native Georgia.

“He needed that recovery time,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “Yes, it works out where he pitches in Atlanta, but he needed the extra days.”

Marmol moved left-hander Zack Thompson (3-5, 3.92 ERA) up in the rotation to replace Wainwright for Sunday’s game.

Thompson struggled with his command in his last start, a game the Cardinals won 6-5 in 10 innings over the Padres on Tuesday.

Before that, Thompson earned a 6-4 victory over the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He held them to two runs on six hits while striking out five in five innings.

Thompson is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in seven career appearances against the Pirates, including two starts. He is one of many Cardinals hoping to use the final month of the season to advance their case for 2024.

“You want to see guys develop and have clarity going into the offseason, of what certain guys are capable of doing, and what guys aren’t capable of doing to make sure that we make the right moves to position ourselves to have success in ’24,” Marmol said after Saturday’s loss. “Individual performances are important, and we’re evaluating them. Losing still (stinks).”

–Field Level Media