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Quick hits: Cardinals begin October baseball by scoring 10 in first two innings to pound Pirates

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The Cardinals reached their goal of playing October baseball Saturday night, even though the schedule and not their first-place standing was the reason why. But there was little to find objectionable about the Cardinals’ 13-3 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Pirates as the local nine draws closer to its first postseason game here next Friday, when October baseball really begins.

The Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first two innings as they beat the Pirates for the 12th time in 15 meetings this season, with four remaining. They have won the season series from the Pirates for the past nine seasons and 20 of the past 23 dating to 2000.

Left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who hadn’t made it through the sixth in his three most recent starts, pitched an efficient six innings, striking out five and allowing two runs and four hits. He threw 59 strikes and only 28 called balls out of 87 pitches.

Corey Dickerson punctuated a six-run first with his second career grand slam. A Busch Stadium sellout crowd of 46,365 observed on Yadier Molina Bobblehead Night.

Pujols closes on Babe; Dickerson is Ruthian

When the Cardinals strafed Pittsburgh rookie Luis Ortiz for the six runs in the first inning — Ortiz recorded one out — Albert Pujols moved within three of Babe Ruth on the all-time runs batted in chart with a two-run single with the bases loaded.

Pujols’ total stands at 2,211, with Henry Aaron the leader at 2,297.

When the bases became loaded again, Dickerson, who recently went through a nothing-for-26 skid, unloaded them with a Ruthian, 433-foot blast to right center for his second homer (out of six) this year at Busch.

This was the end for Ortiz, who had allowed just two earned runs total in his first three big-league starts.

Cardinals load bases five times in first two innings, score 10

With right-handed reliever Zach Thompson in relief, the Cardinals filled the bases twice more in the second inning after filling them three times in the first.

Rookie Alec Burleson, hitting with three men on, delivered two of them with a single. Molina knocked in another run with the bases loaded although the play wound up in a double play after second baseman Rodolfo Castro had recovered Molina’s soft liner that Castro had tipped.

The only two Cardinals not to reach base in the first two innings were Molina and Paul DeJong, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters, who were nothing for four collectively in that span. The struggling DeJong would go nothing for four with two strikeouts and two fielding misplays.

Dickerson had two of the six hits in the first two innings after which the score was 10-2.

Montgomery touched for two runs in second

Jason Delay’s grounder to the right of shortstop DeJong went off DeJong’s glove and into left field to score two runs with two out in the Pirates’ second.

Otherwise, Montgomery (9-6) set down 13 of the final 15 batters to face him as he stopped his losing streak at three. The Cardinals had won his first seven starts upon his arrival from the New York Yankees on Aug. 2.

The strong start by the southpaw further complicates manager Oliver Marmol’s decision as to how best to employ his starters next weekend against a wild-card foe which won’t be determined for at least a couple of more days.

Matz breezes through seventh

Left-hander Steven Matz, trying to make the postseason roster as a reliever after missing time with a torn ligament in his knee, whipped through the seventh in 1-2-3 fashion. But he allowed a leadoff double to Cal Mitchell in the eighth and Mitchell scored as DeJong booted Ji Hwan Bae’s grounder.

Fernandez survives walk(s) on walk side

Former Cardinal Junior Fernandez, whom the Pirates claimed on waivers, made his Pirates debut in the Cardinals’ seventh. He walked three and threw a wild pitch. But Andrew Knizner, the sixth Cardinal to hit with the bases loaded, grounded into an inning-ending forceout

Carlson’s single sparks three-run eighth

Dylan Carlson, hitting from his preferred right side, singled in two runs in the Cardinals’ eighth, which featured a double by Lars Nootbaar and an error by the Pirates, whose defense left something to be desired.

The Cardinals had only eight hits but Pittsburgh pitchers also walked eight and hit one.

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