Stephen Piscotty is finding his way into the St. Louis Cardinals lineup with regularity.
Piscotty, who has taken the injured Matt Holliday in left field, apparently wants to remain in the action. He began Wednesday batting .355 with seven doubles and nine RBIs in 19 games.
“It’s great,” said Piscotty, who has batted second, sixth, seventh and eighth. “I’m starting to develop a bit of a routine and get more comfortable, and that’s been helping. I’m just trying to go out there and do my job.”
Piscotty, 24, had his first three-hit game Tuesday against Pittsburgh. He also has five two-hit games and has failed to collect a hit in just two of his 17 starts.
“This is my first taste of late-season baseball, so it’s exciting,” Piscotty said.
The Cardinals are excited to have Piscotty around. Already a polished hitter, the graduate of Stanford University hasn’t been fazed by anything at the big-league level.
“I just keep kind of equating it to a pitcher with that kind of disposition on the mound,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s odd. I think when Michael Wacha got here, we said the same thing. It looks different for a young player. Stephen is going about it the same way.
“He’s going to have some days where (he faces) guys he hasn’t seen, and they’re going to have some movement on the ball. It’s going to take him a little while to adjust, but I think he’s adjusting quickly.”
Matheny said Piscotty “using all the resources” available to him.
“He’s talking a lot with the veteran players, he’s doing his filmwork,” he said. “He seems to be a quick study. All that, mixed with having a nice swing and a lot of talent, is serving him well.”
Taming the Pirates
Through Tuesday, Cardinals had won 16 of the last 19 meetings against the Pirates at Busch Stadium, dating to August 2013.
Seven of the victories have been on walk-offs, with five of those coming in extra innings, including three in May when the Cardinals began to set the tone for their dominant season.
The Cardinals have outscored Pittsburgh 81-59 in the last 19 games at Busch Stadium, although the Pirates have outhomered St. Louis 17-10.
Both teams have been in the playoffs the previous two years, and are headed in that direction again this season. Plenty of mutual respect has been built.
“It feels more fun when you play the teams that are going to play you close,” Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward said Tuesday after St. Louis’ come-from-behind 4-3 triumph. “It’s just a good opportunity for everyone to stay on their toes. It’s a lot less hard to find a rhythm and be amped up for the game. ... When you win series like these you can get momentum going.”
Retribution for Rosenthal
Closer Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in order Tuesday to post his 34th save. Rosenthal fanned Neil Walker, Cardinals killer Pedro Alvarez and Francisco Cervelli to protect the lead.
The Pirates had treated Rosenthal roughly in his two previous outings against them, scoring four runs (earned) on seven hits in two innings July 11-12 in Pittsburgh. Rosenthal had no strikeouts.
“Trevor is having a terrific year,” Matheny said Wednesday. “There are a couple of games against these guys, in particular, that we pushed him when he was already tired. That sticks in your mind a little bit, too, when you’ve had trouble getting certain teams or certain players out. ... We appreciate the fact we have a guy who can pitch at the end of a game.”
On the farm
Memphis center fielder Tommy Pham, who was with the Cardinals for 13 games in July and batted .182 (8-for-44) apparently is eager for another recall.
Pham is batting .353 for the Redbirds, and prior to going 0-for-5 on Tuesday, he had been on a 19-for-36 binge (.528) that included a four-hit game and three three-hit games.
Reliever Sam Tuivailala, who also was with the Cardinals in July, is 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 15 saves for Memphis. Tuivailala has 36 strikeouts in 36 innings and is allowing a .178 average.
Right-hander Alex Reyes, the Cardinals’ No. 1 pitching prospect, is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four starts since being promoted to Class AA Springfield from high-Class A Palm Beach. Reyes, who turns 21 on Aug. 29, has eight walks and 20 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.
Reyes is coming off his worst start at Springfield, a 1 2/3-inning performance Sunday against Arkansas in which he allowed four runs (earned) on three hits and walked two.
Reyes has not allowed a home run in 77 innings this season.
Center fielder Magneuris (pronounced mahg-nair-EE) Sierra, 19, is batting .340 with five doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs in 36 games with Rookie-level Johnson City.
Sierra signed with the Cardinals in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic.
Right-hander Luke Weaver, a first-round draft pick from Florida State in 2014, is 6-5 with a 1.78 ERA in 15 starts at Palm Beach. Weaver, 21, has 15 walks and 70 strikeouts in 81 innings.
Another first-round draft pick in 2014 is right-hander Jack Flaherty, who is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 13 starts at low-Class A Peoria. Flaherty, 19, has 25 walks and 66 strikeouts in 68 2/3 innings.