Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Cardinals strike late with 5 runs vs. Bucs

St. Louis takes series, heads to Milwaukee to face NL Central leaders
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

PITTSBURGH -- One by one the offerings sailed from the strike zone, essentially solving the Cardinals' offensive woes for them, at least for a day. St. Louis hitters didn't need to do much to turn a three-run deficit into a 6-4 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday, when a pair of Pittsburgh relievers allowed the Cardinals to walk their into a big series in Milwaukee with a series win under their belts.

Tasked with securing the final six outs in a one-run game, Michael Feliz and Felipe Vazquez combined to walk four to spark the Cardinals' comeback in the eighth. Vazquez's free pass to Yairo Munoz accounted for the go-ahead run, after Harrison Bader greeted Vazquez by punching a game-tying pinch-hit single to right.

View Full Game Coverage

PITTSBURGH -- One by one the offerings sailed from the strike zone, essentially solving the Cardinals' offensive woes for them, at least for a day. St. Louis hitters didn't need to do much to turn a three-run deficit into a 6-4 victory over the Pirates at PNC Park on Sunday, when a pair of Pittsburgh relievers allowed the Cardinals to walk their into a big series in Milwaukee with a series win under their belts.

Tasked with securing the final six outs in a one-run game, Michael Feliz and Felipe Vazquez combined to walk four to spark the Cardinals' comeback in the eighth. Vazquez's free pass to Yairo Munoz accounted for the go-ahead run, after Harrison Bader greeted Vazquez by punching a game-tying pinch-hit single to right.

View Full Game Coverage

"Now looking at it as we're getting ready to leave here, we can talk about it being a good series for us," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Love watching the guys compete. And when we're down, to see that kind of fight to get back into it, against a very good bullpen, against a team that we've had a hard time beating here. There's a lot of positives to build on."

Video: STL@PIT: Bader, Gyorko and Mikolas on win over Bucs

Coming off two consecutive blown saves and battling forearm discomfort, Vazquez was called to clean up a mess made by Feliz, who issued two free passes to load the bases following a Jose Martinez single. Instead he kickstarted a carousel of his own, walking Tommy Pham and Marcell Ozuna to load the bases. Bedeviled by off-the-plate breaking balls in a key spot earlier in the game, Ozuna spit on two close sliders after falling behind in the count.

"I took him deep the first game of this series, so I knew he was going to pitch me carefully," Pham said. "The key at bat there was Ozuna. He was down and battled back to manufacture that walk. That was a great at-bat by him."

Video: STL@PIT: Munoz plates Pham with bases-loaded walk

After Tyler O'Neill struck out, Clint Hurdle turned to the southpaw Vazquez to face Kolten Wong. Matheny then countered with the right-handed hitting Bader, who blooped a 65.6-mph single in front of Polanco. Munoz watched four wide ones to score Pham before Carson Kelly legged out a double-play ball to bring home Ozuna. In all, the Cardinals pieced together three runs on two weakly struck singles.

"I felt like we put ourselves in a position to win," Pham said. "Just with resiliency."

All of which brought a sloppy and circuitous end to an afternoon the Cardinals spent mostly scrapping against Jameson Taillon, who allowed only a run through six innings. St. Louis pushed two across on a Jedd Gyorko single after Taillon exited in the seventh, and winning pitcher Sam Tuivailala and Jordan Hicks combined to hold the score before they rallied in the eighth. The runs ensured Miles Mikolas remained unbeaten through his first 10 starts, and set the stage for Bud Norris' 11th save in as many chances, and second in two days.

Video: STL@PIT: Norris induces groundout to secure the save

"They're grinding and fighting," Matheny said. "Whether it's hard hit balls, or lots of runs, or lots hits, they're still figuring out ways to keep us in games and take some of them. Anxious to get [to Milwaukee] and take another step forward."

He was far from the only one in the Cardinals' locker room fighting the urge to look ahead. As they packed postgame, several Cardinals delayed their showers to watch the Brewers hold on for another win against the Mets, the conclusion of their 8-7 final blaring from the clubhouse TV. The victory kept Milwaukee at four games atop the Cardinals in the NL Central, setting up an important three-game series between the clubs set to start Monday.

"We have to catch them," Pham said.

Video: STL@CIN: Gyorko bloops a 2-run single into left

SOUND SMART
Rare have been the chances for Matheny to pluck a player from his bench looking for a platoon split, like he did by swapping Bader for Wong against Vazquez. How rare? Bader became the first Cardinals hitter to face a left-handed pitcher, in any capacity, across the club's last 333 plate appearances. That's the longest such streak in Majors this year.

Video: STL@PIT: Bader lofts RBI single to tie it in the 8th

SCARY MOMENT
The Cardinals collectively held their breath after bench coach Mike Shildt was struck in the head with a foul ball that went screaming into the dugout in the first inning. Shildt left the dugout under his own power, and was cleared to return to the bench two innings later. He officially suffered a "head contusion."

"We're close to the field here. Real close," Matheny said. "He didn't want to leave. He was adamant that he was fine. Doctors agreed. We'll continued to keep an eye on him. It was scary stuff that made him sit below the net the rest of the day. Couldn't afford to get him hit again. That thing was a rocket."

Video: STL@PIT: Marte fouls ball off Cardinals bench coach

HE SAID IT
"I put us in a bit of a hole today, but baseball is a team game, and our lineup put on their work boots and dug me out of it." -- Mikolas, on his offense

UP NEXT
St. Louis will get its first crack at a southpaw starter in more than two weeks when the Cardinals open a three-game series against Brent Suter (4-3, 4.56 ERA) and the Brewers on Monday, though it's unclear whether the matchup figures to be advantageous or not. The Cardinals tout a right-handed-heavy lineup, but it's been one of baseball's most futile against left-handers. Either way, Luke Weaver (3-4, 4.31 ERA) gets the ball for St. Louis in the Memorial Day matinee, set for 1:10 p.m. CT from Miller Park.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Harrison Bader, Jedd Gyorko, Miles Mikolas, Yairo Munoz, Marcell Ozuna, Tommy Pham