Paul Goldschmidt's three-run homer in the seventh inning proved to be the difference as the Cardinals defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 before a Wednesday afternoon crowd of 43,186 at Busch Stadium.
With Pittsburgh up 4-3 and one out in the seventh, Tommy Edman singled up the middle and Jose Martinez followed with a walk. After Pittsburgh replaced reliever Francisco Liriano with reliever Michael Feliz, Goldschmidt connected on a 2-2 pitch for his 18th homer of the season.
Just like that, a 4-3 deficit became a 6-4 lead. The Pirates picked up a run in the ninth on a Bryan Reynolds hit, but the Cardinals held on to wrap up a 4-2 home stand.
The Pirates had two on when Carlos Martinez got Starling Marte to hit into a forceout to end the game.
"Speaks to the desire and hunger of the team," manager Mike Shildt said. "Bryan Eversgerd, our bullpen coach, has a great quote: 'Who you are is what you do at your most uncomfortable.'
"When your back is against the wall or you're uncomfortable or it’s hot or you don’t feel quite right or there’s a lot of stimulation going on outside the clubhouse or in the stadium or whatever the case may be — it really determines who you are when your back is against the wall. I don’t want to say that our back was against the wall necessarily but it’s a quick-turnaround game and it was warm. ... It really speaks to who you are. And who is going to show up.
"And guys showed up and answered the bell. Again, we expect it, but we don’t take it for granted when they show up and you get down, and it was really about digging in and keep fighting. So, yeah, they’re all big (wins). But it’s very gratifying to see that kind of desire to compete and come back. ... It’s important. It’s a championship trait."
The Cardinals' Tyler O'Neill cut the Pittsburgh lead to one with a solo homer with two outs in the fifth. It was the fifth homer of the season for O'Neill.
In the Pirates fourth, Melky Cabrera led off with a single and Colin Moran followed with a walk. After Jung Ho Kang hit into a double play and the Cardinals walked No. 8 hitter Jacob Stallings intentionally, Pittsburgh pitcher Chris Archer came up with his second hit of the day, a single to right that tied the game at 2-2.
After Kevin Newman singled to load the bases, Bryan Reynolds blooped a hit to shallow center that drove in two to put the Pirates on top 4-2. It also ended Daniel Ponce de Leon's day.
Reliever Dominic Leone got Starling Marte to end the inning.
• BOX SCORE: Cardinals 6, Pirates 5
The Cardinals took their first lead of the day with a run in the second inning. Yairo Munoz led off with an infield hit and Andrew Knizner followed with a double into the gap in left-center. It was the first hit of Kninzer's major league career.
After a strikeout, Tommy Edman walked to load the bases for Jose Martinez, who delivered a sacrifice fly to right to put the Cardinals on top 2-1.
The Pirates threatened in the third, getting a lead-off single from Chris Archer and an infield hit from Kevin Newman to open the inning. But the Cardinals' Daniel Ponce de Leon struck out Bryan Reynolds, got Starling Marte on a flyout and Jose Osuna on a groundout to end the threat.
Visiting Pittsburgh grabbed the lead when Starling Marte hit a 2-0 pitch into the left-field stands with two outs in the top of the first inning. It was his 16th homer of the season.
In the bottom of the inning, Tommy Edman led off with a single, took second on an infield out and scored on a two-out single to right from Tyler O'Neill to tie it.
The Cardinals used the long ball for most of their runs on Wednesday, getting a three-run homer from Paul Goldschmidt in the seventh and a solo shot in the fifth from Tyler O'Neill, who also drove in the home team's first run with a two-out single in the first. The Cardinals' other run came on a Jose Martinez sacrifice fly. Tommy Edman had a pair of hits for the Redbirds.
Picking up the win in relief with two perfect innings of relief was John Brebbia (3-3), who struck out the side in the sixth and added another strikeout in the seventh.
Carlos Martinez pitched the ninth, giving up three hits while picking up his sixth save of the season.
The Pirates outhit the Cardinals 11-7, getting two hits and an RBI from starting pitcher Chris Archer and three hits from Kevin Newman. Bryan Reynolds added two hits and drove in three while Starling Marte homered, driving in the other Pittsburgh run.
"I'm just 100 percent focused on the ball right now,'' O'Neill said. "Doesn't matter what pitch is coming or what I'm going to do. It's just seeing the ball and letting my hands react.
"I'm just trying to do my job."
PONCE de LEON GETS THE START
Righthander Daniel Ponce de Leon takes the mound as the Cardinals wrap up a home stand at Busch Stadium against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a steamy Wednesday matinee.
The Redbirds, who begin a road trip Thursday with the start of a four-game set against the Reds in Cincinnati, will also play four in Pittsburgh before returning home on July 26 for the first of three with the Houston Astros.
Ponce de Leon (1-0, 1.99 earned-run average) has been solid in a variety of roles this season with the Cardinals. In his last appearance, an emergency start last Friday, he threw 6 2/3 innings and allowed three hits and one run in a game that was eventually lost 4-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ponce de Leon fanned seven and walked no one in that game.
The Pirates will counter with righthander Chris Archer, who's 3-6 with a 5.42 ERA. He's coming off a solid effort in his second-half debut, striking out a season-high 10 in a 4-3 loss to the Cubs in Chicago.
Both teams are going with unusual lineups. The Cardinals have shortstop Paul DeJong hitting sixth with red-hot Tyler O'Neill batting fourth. Yairo Munoz is hitting seventh and playing third while catcher Andrew Knizner bats eighth.
"Felt like it was a different look for Paulie,'' Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said before Wednesday's game. "He's had a nice year, but he's... lately he's just not been as comfortable _ I don't know about comfortable, but he hasn't been as productive up in the lineup so we thought we'd give it a different look.”
Asked about the defensive pressure of playing shortstop, Shildt said it wasn't a factor.
“I think about that, but honestly I don't feel like in the evaluation the last couple of years, the weight is too heavy for Paul," the manager said. "Paul welcomes that. So when you welcome that opportunity, it doesn't feel like a weight.
“You put your time and energy into doing it and he's been able to do it really well. So I don't think one's affecting the other necessarily. I think he's more than capable of doing it (but) now's an opportunity to give him a different look in the lineup.”
For the Pirates, Jose Osuna steps in at first base and bats third in place of Josh Bell while Jung Ho Kang gets a start at short and Jacob Stallings catches.
GYORKO BEGINS ROAD BACK
Veteran infielder Jedd Gyorko, who went down with a back strain, a calf strain and right wrist surgery in rapid succession in June, took some swings on Wednesday.
“Everything feels good,'' he said. “Swung today for the first time off a tee, so that's progressing. If everything goes as planned, I'll be going to rehab in a couple of weeks.”
Gyorko continued: “Just normal recovery from surgery. The wrist is coming along how we'd hoped. Everything that the doctors told me is working as it should. Once I can work my way to taking BP, I should be cleared to go on rehab.
"I don't want to get too excited yet _ still a lot of steps to go _ but it definitely feels better than it used to. We're headed in the right direction.”
Gyorko took 15 swings on Wednesday.
"A little rusty, but it felt good," he said. "I haven't missed yet, so it's good. It's a good start.''
Tommy Edman, 3B
Jose Martinez, RF
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
Tyler O'Neill, LF
Dexter Fowler, CF
Paul DeJong, SS
Yairo Munoz, 3B
Andrew Knizner, C
Daniel Ponce de Leon, P
Kevin Newman, 2B
Bryan Reynolds, RF
Starling Marte, CF
Jose Osuna, 1B
Melky Cabrera, LF
Colin Moran, 3B
Jung Ho Kang, SS
Jacob Stallings, C
Chris Archer, P