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Cards piecing together 'pen without Rosenthal

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals have picked a path of patience en route to determining what's next for Trevor Rosenthal, their closer now sidelined by an elbow injury. The club isn't afforded the similar luxury of time, however, when it comes to finding a way to replace him in the bullpen.

St. Louis was reminded on Friday of how precarious those late innings can be without its most reliable arm. The eight-run lead the Cardinals carried into the eighth inning narrowly stood in an 11-10 victory at PNC Park that saw the Pirates advance the tying run to third in a ninth inning that required three relievers to secure three outs.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals have picked a path of patience en route to determining what's next for Trevor Rosenthal, their closer now sidelined by an elbow injury. The club isn't afforded the similar luxury of time, however, when it comes to finding a way to replace him in the bullpen.

St. Louis was reminded on Friday of how precarious those late innings can be without its most reliable arm. The eight-run lead the Cardinals carried into the eighth inning narrowly stood in an 11-10 victory at PNC Park that saw the Pirates advance the tying run to third in a ninth inning that required three relievers to secure three outs.

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"Any win we get is big, but we're in a corner right there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We have to have somebody come in, make some big pitches for us, and [Seung Hwan] Oh did a nice job of that. Just sometimes you have to figure out a way to scratch and claw until the end."

What set up to be a rout first turned troublesome when Mike Mayers spotted the Pirates five runs (four earned) without being able to finish the eighth. Called up from Triple-A earlier in the afternoon, Mayers was then optioned back after his ineffective appearance.

Video: STL@PIT: Diaz drives in two with double into the gap

That left the Cardinals in a save situation sans closer, as Rosenthal had assumed that role before landing on the disabled list on Thursday. Matheny, wanting to avoid calling on Oh and Tyler Lyons, both of whom had pitched each of the two previous days, first gave the ball and a three-run lead to Matt Bowman.

Bowman retired the leadoff hitter before loading the bases on two walks and a hit batsman. Zach Duke got the next call and walked in a run. The bullpen roulette continued onto Oh, who, after serving up a flyout to the warning track, struck out Elias Diaz with the bases loaded to seal the team's second win of the series.

"For us relievers, we're collectively trying to close out the games and get the win for the team," Oh said through an interpreter. "I was trying to focus not on the run difference, but on finishing the game and getting a win for the team."

Video: STL@PIT: Freese cuts deficit with sac fly in 9th

With Oh now having pitched on three consecutive days, he will be unavailable on Saturday. And so the Cardinals will have to piece together the ninth yet again should they find themselves in another such spot.

Oh and Lyons remain the most likely to be summoned in save situations, assuming, of course, that their workloads allow. But Matheny has in recent days also shown a willingness to put his trust in others. Duke and John Brebbia took over when Rosenthal had to exit the ninth with a one-run lead on Wednesday. Bowman, who leads the Majors with 61 appearances, will continue to factor into those late-inning spots, as well.

"There are days where we're just going to have to use everybody we possibly can," Matheny said. "Today was one of those days. But we won. We won, and we entertained a fireworks crowd."

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.

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