Bucs make history, then rally past Cards
PITTSBURGH -- Jordy Mercer's bases-loaded double keyed a three-run go-ahead rally in the sixth on Saturday night, and the Pirates held on for a 7-5 victory over the Cardinals, snapping their seven-game losing streak against the defending National League Central champions.
After the Bucs loaded the bases against starter Carlos Martinez on Sean Rodriguez's single and walks of Pedro Alvarez and Francisco Cervelli, Mercer banged the first pitch from reliever Seth Maness off the center-field wall to drive in two runs and give Pittsburgh a one-run lead.
"They brought him in to get a ground ball," Mercer said of the sinkerball specialist. "I was thinking of swinging aggressively if I saw something up and out over the plate. It worked out for me."
Yadier Molina had avenged hitting into a second-inning triple play with a two-run double that highlighted a five-run uprising against right-hander Vance Worley in the fourth that had given the Cardinals a two-run lead.
It was Martinez's second shaky outing this week, as he was responsible for all seven Pirates runs in his 5 1/3 innings of work. But Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said there were some positive signs for the 23-year-old right-hander.
"Sometimes the only way to learn this is to have these kinds of struggles," Matheny said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
(New) one for the books: The Bucs turned the first 4-5-4 triple play in Major League Baseball history in the second inning, when Molina lined to second baseman Neil Walker with runners on the move from second and third base. Walker's throw to third baseman Jung Ho Kang erased Jhonny Peralta, and the throw back to Walker got Jason Heyward attempting to return to second. More >
Batting around: The Pirates had seemingly seized the momentum in the second inning, turning the triple play, then jumping out to a three-run lead. But the Cardinals regained control in the fourth, sending 11 men to the plate and coming away with five runs. After blasting three home runs in Friday's win, the Cardinals used a series of base hits and doubles -- including a bunt single by Martinez -- for this big rally. More >
"You just try to keep getting good pitches. We felt like we had some good at-bats against [Worley] in St. Louis," Heyward said. "We were able to come out and continue to square some balls up. Just kept fighting, keep fighting, and that's that."
Not so fast: Pirates manager Clint Hurdle strongly hinted before Friday's series opener that the Bucs would try to run on Molina, saying the backstop appeared to be "playing through some things." The Pirates gave it a shot in the fifth, but Molina rifled a throw to Peralta and caught Gregory Polanco stealing second. That might have been a crucial run, as Walker immediately ripped a solo shot to right; a two-run homer would have tied the score at that point.
"It's never over until that last out's made. That's the way we go about it. Teams are going to play well. Teams are going to earn their wins. Just trying to make them difficult." -- Heyward
"That's the third straight night we were able to do some things on offense." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on the Bucs totaling 18 runs in their last three games after five in their first five games during May
Cardinals: Left-hander Tyler Lyons will make his second spot start in Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Pirates at PNC Park at 12:35 p.m. CT. Lyons has gone winless in the Majors since winning his first two big league starts on May 22 and May 28, 2013. In three career appearances against the Pirates, he is 0-2 with a 4.20 ERA.
Pirates: Left-hander Jeff Locke, who pitched the first game of this homestand, also gets the ball in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET finale of the six-game homestand. Of the current Cardinals, only Matt Holliday has homered off Locke.
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