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Cervelli's heroics spoiled as Bucs allow 5 in 9th

MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' comeback dreams fell short Thursday night, as Felipe Vazquez gave up a walk-off home run to Yairo Munoz that capped a five-run bottom of the ninth, sending the Bucs to a stunning 10-8 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The Pirates went into the ninth with a three-run lead after Francisco Cervelli's two-out homer gave the Bucs a seemingly comfortable 8-5 cushion in the eighth. Kyle Crick pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning, setting up a save opportunity for Vazquez. However, the Bucs' closer failed to record an out in the ninth, as all five batters he faced scored.

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ST. LOUIS -- The Pirates' comeback dreams fell short Thursday night, as Felipe Vazquez gave up a walk-off home run to Yairo Munoz that capped a five-run bottom of the ninth, sending the Bucs to a stunning 10-8 loss to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

The Pirates went into the ninth with a three-run lead after Francisco Cervelli's two-out homer gave the Bucs a seemingly comfortable 8-5 cushion in the eighth. Kyle Crick pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning, setting up a save opportunity for Vazquez. However, the Bucs' closer failed to record an out in the ninth, as all five batters he faced scored.

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Video: PIT@STL: Munoz crushes a 3-run walk-off smash in 9th

"He said he was good to go. He's gone three [games in a row] before," manager Clint Hurdle said of Vazquez. "It didn't come out the way he wanted it, it didn't come out the way we wanted it."

Pirates starter Trevor Williams summed up the back-and-forth game best in a quiet Pittsburgh clubhouse after the game.

"It's baseball. As weird as that is, baseball is designed to break your heart," Williams said. "It's a tough loss for us."

Williams put the offense behind the eight ball early, as he conceded four runs in the first. Dexter Fowler lined to right to open the scoring, plating Matt Carpenter and Harrison Bader. Munoz promptly doubled in the following at-bat, scoring Jose Martinez and Fowler.

"No one likes getting hit around and getting taken out in the first or second inning," said Williams, who went five. "You kind of mentally say, 'That's it, that's all they are going to get tonight,' and put a foot down and try to salvage the start and get through five, get through six."

After Williams surrendered the four runs in the first, the Pirates chipped away at the Cards' lead, beginning with Jordy Mercer's run-scoring single in the second, which plated Colin Moran. Gregory Polanco, who had three hits on the night, then lined a double to plate Corey Dickerson in the fourth, setting up a Josh Bell two-run homer to tie the game in the fifth.

Video: PIT@STL: Bell launches a 2-run homer to right-center

The Cardinals reclaimed the lead in the bottom half of the inning on a Greg Garcia single, but the Pirates tied it back up in the eighth on an RBI double from Polanco, which preceded Cervelli's go-ahead homer.

Video: PIT@STL: Polanco ties the game with a double in 8th

The Cardinals' walk-off rally against Vazquez in the ninth was quick and fierce. Bader, Tommy Pham and Marcell Ozuna loaded the bases before Luke Voit singled to cut the Pirates' lead to one run. Munoz squared up Vazquez's offering for a three-run homer, which brought home Ozuna and pinch-runner Luke Weaver.

MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Facing a one-run deficit, the Pirates had an excellent chance to take control of the game in the seventh inning. The Bucs got back-to-back one-out singles from Cervelli and Starling Marte off Cardinals reliever John Brebbia. However, Jordan Hicks came on in relief and, after walking Bell to load the bases, used his overpowering stuff to coax Dickerson to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat. It was the seventh double play Hicks has induced this season. He entered the game tied for first among National League relievers in that category.

Video: PIT@STL: Hicks gets out of bases-loaded jam with a DP

HE SAID IT
"To come through against a guy that's been doing a real nice job at the back end of the bullpen with real good stuff and watch one at-bat after another. ... [I] realize that three runs is a big ask, but just do your part and somebody will come through and that's obviously a big hit." -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on St. Louis' walk-off rally

UP NEXT
The Pirates return to Busch Stadium to face the Cardinals on Friday at 8:15 p.m. ET in the second leg of a four-game set. Right-hander Jameson Taillon (2-4, 4.53) opposes righty Miles Mikolas (6-0, 2.58) on the hill. Taillon took a no-decision in his last start against St. Louis on Sunday. He will go for his first win since April 8.

Sean Collins is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

Pittsburgh Pirates