Jordy Mercer broke out of a deep slump with a go-ahead two-run double and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on Saturday night.
Mercer, who began the day hitting .186, sent a fastball from St. Louis reliever Seth Maness off the wall in center field with one out in the sixth to give the Pirates the lead. Mercer finished with three RBIs, nearly doubling his season total.
Neil Walker added his second homer and the Pirates ended a seven-game losing streak to the Cardinals. Rob Scahill (1-2) earned the win in relief. Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
Matt Holliday went 3 for 4 for the Cardinals. Jhonny Peralta and Jason Heyward added two hits each. Both were on base in the second inning when Yadier Molina hit into the franchise’s first triple play in nearly 12 years. Carlos Martinez (3-1) picked up his first loss after 5 1-3 erratic innings.
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Pittsburgh has slogged through the first month of the season and started the night trailing the Cardinals by nine games. The offense that has sputtered for long stretches, however, is starting to come to life. Pittsburgh has 19 runs over its last three games after managing just 15 total during a 1-7 slide that ended on Thursday.
The Pirates took an early 3-0 lead in the second but St. Louis pushed around Pittsburgh starter Vance Worley in the fourth. Four singles, two doubles – including one by Heyward that plated two runs – gave the Cardinals a 5-3 lead.
Martinez and the normally reliable bullpen couldn’t make it hold up. Walker pulled Pittsburgh within 5-4 with a solo shot in the fifth and Martinez’s control abandoned him in the sixth. A single and two walks loaded the bases for Mercer with one out. Maness came on but Mercer drilled an offering to center. Mercer clapped his hands as reached second with his biggest hit of the season.
Corey Hart added a sacrifice fly and Pittsburgh’s bullpen took care of the rest.
The Pirates turned the first 4-5-4 triple play in the top of the second with a little help from the Cardinals. St. Louis had runners on second and third when Yadier Molina lined to second baseman Walker. Walker threw to third to double off Peralta. Heyward, who was on second, started walking off the field thinking the inning was over. Pittsburgh third baseman Jung Ho Kang pirouetted with the ball in his hand, briefly confused, before throwing back to Walker on second for the final out.
It was second triple play by the Pirates in as many years. St. Louis last hit into a triple play when Atlanta shortstop Rafael Furcal made an unassisted triple play on Aug. 10, 2003.
Cardinals: 3B Matt Carpenter remained in St. Louis dealing with extreme fatigue. Manager Mike Matheny said he did not talk to Carpenter on Saturday. Carpenter is expected to rejoin the team on Tuesday in Cleveland. … LHP Marco Gonzalez lasted just 2 1-3 innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Memphis on Saturday. Gonzalez, out since April 22 with a pectoral injury, gave up four runs before being pulled after throwing 56 pitches.
Pirates: LF Starling Marte left the game after the third inning with what the team called “extreme dizziness.” Marte struck out twice in two plate appearances and was replaced by Sean Rodriguez … RHP Charlie Morton felt good a day after seven scoreless innings during a rehab start for Double-A Altoona. It’s still uncertain when Morton, who is recovering from hip surgery, will return.
The series concludes on Sunday when Pittsburgh’s Jeff Locke (2-2, 4.85) faces St. Louis’ Tyler Lyons (0-0, 6.23 ERA). Locke is 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA in five starts against St. Louis. Holliday is 5 for 12 against Locke with a homer and four RBI. Lyons will make his second start for the Cardinals. He gave up four runs in 3 1-3 innings against the Cubs last week.