PITTSBURGH -- Expecting to be summoned sometime in the latter part of Saturday's game at PNC Park, Jose Martinez sat down on the dugout bench next to Yairo Munoz ready to play spectator as Ivan Nova delivered the game's first pitch.Munoz wouldn't have company for long.Notified of an injury to
PITTSBURGH -- Expecting to be summoned sometime in the latter part of Saturday's game at PNC Park, Jose Martinez sat down on the dugout bench next to Yairo Munoz ready to play spectator as Ivan Nova delivered the game's first pitch.
Munoz wouldn't have company for long.
Notified of an injury to Tyler O'Neill after exchanging lineup cards, interim manager Mike Shildt hastily called on Martinez to grab a bat and head out to the on-deck circle. With an unexpected chance to get multiple at-bats, Martinez capitalized by salvaging one run-scoring opportunity and sparking another for the Cardinals, who swarmed the bases all night en route to an 8-4 victory.
• No surgery necessary for Fowler's left foot
With the win, the Cardinals pulled even with Pittsburgh for third place in the National League Central, 7 1/2 games back of the Cubs.
"Relentless at-bats," Shildt said after the club's first seven-double game since 2013. "We talk about consistency -- that's consistency. They have a good club over there, a good pitching staff. Pressure every inning, wearing down guys. That's what it looks like."
A club too often tripped up by an all-or-nothing offense early this season has pestered the Pirates all series. Through two games, the Cardinals have tallied 29 hits -- including 12 for extra bases -- and taken 42 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Not an inning has gone by in which they haven't had at least one batter reach.
• Ozuna's nagging shoulder impacting throws
"I think we're less dependent on the home run now, which is good because we've been wearing down starters the last couple days," Paul DeJong said. "For us, it's just about grinding out at-bats. I think guys are really passing the baton well. Everybody is contributing."
The middle of the order was especially impactful on Saturday, with Martinez and Jedd Gyorko combining for four doubles and two walks from the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup.
Martinez, who came in leading the Majors with 21 hits with a runner in scoring position and two outs, tallied another with an RBI double to tie the game in the third. Gyorko followed by doubling home two more.
"It's always good to set the tone, especially with an extra-base hit," Martinez said. "Whatever it is, whatever role, whatever opportunity, I'm going to be there."
The bursts of offense on Saturday helped the Cardinals cover for lefty Austin Gomber, whose spot start for Carlos Martinez lasted four innings. Behind him, the bullpen was much more efficient.
Dakota Hudson, who opened the year in the same Triple-A rotation as Gomber, twirled three scoreless innings to earn his second Major League victory in four appearances. He retired all nine batters he faced. Mike Mayers and Bud Norris finished off the win, which Matt Carpenter punctuated with his NL-high-tying 28th home run to add an insurance run in the ninth.
"It [stinks] to only go four, but when you have guys like [Hudson] and [Daniel Poncedeleon] out there who can eat innings, it's just a different look than what we've had all year," said Gomber, who allowed four runs in his 71-pitch outing. "The bullpen has been great. When Dak was coming in, I felt confident and knew we were going to win that game."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With the Pirates threatening against Mayers in the eighth, DeJong and second baseman Kolten Wong executed the defensive play of the game to end the threat. DeJong stopped Jordy Mercer's ball from skipping into center and then flipped it to Wong for the forceout. The two were playing alongside each other for the first time since July 21, as Wong had spent the past 12 days sidelined by a left knee injury.
"I saw off the bat that it wasn't really smashed," DeJong said. "I knew I really didn't have to dive for it. I almost didn't get it out of my glove, but Kolten made a nice stretch for me on that flip."
"I was just there to catch the ball," added Wong. "He did everything. Hats off to Paul, because without him doing that, you never know what happens."
With his first-inning double, Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 23 games. It's the longest active streak in the Majors. He also tied Willie McGee for 20th all-time in Cardinals history with 255 doubles.
HE SAID IT
"I think everybody is proud of how we've been playing -- grinding out at-bats, grinding pitchers out. As you can see, the Pirates are getting put in tough situations because we keep pushing their pitchers out in the fourth, fifth innings. That's always a plus for us." -- Wong
The Cardinals will play their final regular-season game at PNC Park on Sunday in a 12:35 p.m. CT matchup between Jack Flaherty (4-6, 3.49 ERA) and Trevor Williams (9-7, 3.89). Flaherty's focus will be on keeping the ball in the park, as six of the last eight runs he has allowed have come via the long ball.
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.