ST. LOUIS -- With a chance to notch their first three-game series sweep in St. Louis in 26 seasons, the Pirates instead endured a seventh-inning meltdown that aided the Cardinals' comeback on Sunday. With key hits from Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong, the Cardinals scored four runs in the frame
ST. LOUIS -- With a chance to notch their first three-game series sweep in St. Louis in 26 seasons, the Pirates instead endured a seventh-inning meltdown that aided the Cardinals' comeback on Sunday. With key hits from Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong, the Cardinals scored four runs in the frame to surge to an 8-4 win that halted their home losing streak at five games.
The Pirates couldn't overcome their own generosity, as free bases and extra outs put them in precarious position with the game tied at 4-4. Reliever Juan Nicasio walked the first two batters, and Molina, who went 3-for-4 in his return from nagging knee soreness, pushed across the go-ahead run with a single. From there, the floodgates opened.
"We weren't able to make pitches," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We weren't able to execute the fastball, for the most part, or the slider. Just too many pitches. The two walks kind of painted him into a bad corner."
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There was a wild pitch, two balls that shortstop Jordy Mercer couldn't corral -- one went for an error, the other scooted past him for a two-run single by DeJong -- and a ball that struck Luke Voit in the back as he made his Major League debut. By the time Jhan Marinez recorded the frame's third out, the Cardinals had batted around.
"Take it however you can get it," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I don't care how it comes. [I] thought it was some good situational hitting at times, and then big hits. That's one of the big components to winning on a consistent basis. You have to have big hits and stack them together."
Though Cardinals starter Mike Leake remains winless since May 24, he kept the game within reach during his six-inning start. Adam Frazier's two-run triple during Pittsburgh's three-run third was Leake's most costly mistake. Pirates starter Chad Kuhl was chased from his start after allowing the first two batters to reach in the sixth. He was charged with four runs on eight hits.
"It was my own doing. Just got to be better," Kuhl said. "Made a bunch of strides, but obviously unfortunate."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Power punch: Called up from Triple-A Memphis earlier in the day, Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk made an immediate impact. After sparking a rally with an infield single in his first at-bat, Grichuk crushed a 2-2 slider from Kuhl in the sixth inning and dropped it 478 feet away in Big Mac Land. The home run was the longest by a Cardinals player in the history of Busch Stadium III and the fifth-longest, according to Statcast™, by anyone anywhere this year. Kuhl was pitching into the sixth for the first time since April 18, and he still hasn't record an out in the inning since then. More >
"I knew off the bat that it was a no-doubter," Grichuk said. "I normally sprint out the box, and I kind of jogged, so I knew that was pretty far. But being the farthest is pretty impressive considering some of the Matt Holidays and guys like that [who] have played at this stadium."
Throwing heat: Two days after suffering a blown save, Cardinals right-hander Trevor Rosenthal entered with two out in the seventh inning and stranded Elias Diaz, the potential tying run, at third. Rosenthal was summoned to face Josh Harrison, who had drawn a walk off him in the first game of the series. Rosenthal didn't get fancy with his pitch selection, but rather threw three fastballs. Harrison swung through the last one, a 98.5-mph offering, to fall to 0-for-9 with three strikeouts against Rosenthal.
"I'm speechless, man. Coolest thing I've ever done, [an] at-bat in the big leagues." -- Luke Voit, after being hit by a pitch in his first career plate appearance
"It's a good step forward. Nothing's major right now. We're working hard to play better. Tonight, we didn't finish. We had two bad innings. To come in here and win two out of three, we'll take it and we'll move on."-- Hurdle, on winning the series and finishing a 4-3 swing through Milwaukee and St. Louis, the Pirates' first winning road trip of the season
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Greg Garcia was hitless in his last 18 at-bats and 1-for-29 this month before he delivered a two-run single in the second inning. His single came off a 97.8 mph fastball from Kuhl, making it the hardest pitch Garcia's ever turned into a hit.
Kuhl induced 13 swinging strikes, including nine against his slider. It was his second-highest whiff total of the season, behind only the 14 he recorded in his first start of the season at Fenway Park on April 18.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Cardinals' second-inning rally was helped by a replay review that overturned the first out of the inning. Initially ruled out after hitting a grounder to short, Aledmys Diaz was awarded an infield single after a 25-second review. The Cardinals went on to score two runs in the inning, though Diaz was stranded at third.
Pirates: After an off-day Monday, the Pirates will begin a three-game Interleague series against the Rays at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday at PNC Park. Right-hander Trevor Williams will start for Pittsburgh after striking out a career-high seven batters over six innings against the Brewers on Wednesday. Right-hander Alex Cobb is scheduled to start for Tampa Bay.
Cardinals: Before departing for Arizona, the Cardinals will play the Reds in a makeup game at Busch Stadium on Monday. First pitch is scheduled for 3:15 p.m. CT. Michael Wacha, who has won one of his last 10 starts, will start for St. Louis against Brandon Finnegan.
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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.