Matt Carpenter beat the Pittsburgh Pirates and the rain.
Carpenter’s two-run homer in the ninth inning Saturday gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 6-4 victory, their first in five games this season against the Pirates.
Carpenter slammed a 1-2 changeup from A.J. Schugel (0-1) into the Cardinals’ bullpen in right, his fourth homer of the season and the first game-winning blast of his career.
“It’s awesome, being able to win the game like that, especially the way it kind of played out beforehand,” Carpenter said. “It was a big win, so it was a lot of fun.”
Moments earlier, the air was all but out of the balloon when a throwing error on rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz and a two-out ground-rule double by Starling Marte enabled the Pirates to tie the game against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal (1-1).
I thought it had a good chance. But you never know when you have (bad) weather rolling in. I didn’t know if maybe the wind shifted or what.
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter on his game-winning two-run homer in the ninth inning Saturday
But Diaz reached on an infield single, his second hit of the game, to start the Cardinals’ ninth, and after rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker flied out to deep left, Carpenter teed off.
“I thought it had a good chance,” Carpenter said. “But you never know when you have (bad) weather rolling in. I didn’t know if maybe the wind shifted or what.”
Just four innings earlier, Carpenter had been called out on strikes.
“I was pretty angry,” he said. “I ended up pretty happy. But that’s baseball. There’s ups and downs. It’s an emotional roller-coaster sometimes. Today was a good example of it.”
Rain began falling minutes after Carpenter’s game-winner. Since the start of the 2014 season, St. Louis has had six walk-off homers, four of them coming against the Pirates.
Adam Wainwright’s bid for a victory ended when the Pirates scored in the seventh to make it 3-3. But Wainwright kept the Cardinals in the game after a troublesome first inning.
He allowed hits to the first four Pittsburgh batters, but the Pirates mustered just two runs. The Cardinals matched them with two of their own in the first against Jeff Locke.
From the second through the sixth, Wainwright retired 15 of 17 hitters.
“I found that next gear I’ve been looking for,” said Wainwright, who allowed three runs (earned) on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. “The conviction that goes behind each pitch was evident, I thought. I had it for every batter after the first.”
Despite being encouraged by his outing, Wainwright said he needs to be sharper from the outset and prohibit opponents from scoring early and putting the Cardinals in a hole.
I found that next gear I’ve been looking for. The conviction that goes behind each pitch was evident, I thought. I had it for every batter after the first.
Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright on his performance Saturday against Pittsburgh
“If there’s that much of an extra gear, I need to be very conscious going into my next start of coming out with that gear as opposed to having to get there after they push a couple across,” he said. “That’s a good teach for me. Now I know it’s in there; now I know how to get it.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny hopes that’s the case.
“He got locked in,” Matheny said. “Whatever it was when he got locked in, that looks like Adam. We just need to figure out how to take that out the next time from the top. He did a great job of keeping us in that game. That could have gone bad in a hurry.”
Wainwright also doubled in the second inning, becoming the first Cardinals pitcher in the modern era to record extra-base hits in four consecutive plate appearances (triple, home run, double, double). Tommy Pham in 2015 was the last position player to accomplish the feat.
A key out for Wainwright in the first was a called third strike against Francisco Cervelli. As Cervelli walked back to the dugout, the foghorn was sounded indicating the St. Louis Blues had scored to take a 2-1 lead over the Dallas Stars in the second period.
The Blues went on to win 4-1 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“Wasn’t it awesome that it was so exciting I struck out Cervelli there?” Wainwright quipped. “The crowd went crazy. They really were behind me right there. It was awesome.”
Turning more serious, Wainwright said: “We know that noise. The Blues scored. We’re all rooting for the Blues, too. We want them to score as many goals as they can.”
Plate umpire Dana DeMuth was hit in his helmet by a foul ball by Stephen Piscotty in the first. Second-base umpire Ed Hickox replaced DeMuth in the top of the third.
Hickox needed more than 10 minutes to change gear, and Wainwright capitalized on the break by relaxing in the comfort of the dugout.
“I thought it was actually perfect timing for me,” Wainwright said. “I was out there on the bases a little bit. We’re just getting used to this heat. It was kind of sneaky-humid out there today. It’s been very chilly, so I had a good sit-down to collect my thoughts and I actually came out sharper than I was before the rest.”
DeMuth, an umpire since 1985, was being examined for a possible concussion.
Plenty of help
Right fielder Piscotty and center fielder Randal Grichuk came up big in the victory.
Piscotty was 2-for-3 with a home run in the third (No. 5), a walk and three runs scored. He also saved a potential run in the seventh when he backed up an off-the-mark throw to second by third baseman Carpenter. Piscotty is batting .303 with five homers and 21 RBIs.
“He’s in a nice spot,” Matheny said.
Grichuk batted fourth and had a two-run single in the first against Locke and an RBI single in the eighth against Jared Hughes that put the Cardinals momentarily ahead 4-3.
Grichuk lifted his average to .200 with four homers and 16 RBIs.
“Two huge hits,” Piscotty said of Grichuk, his closest friend on the team. “I think that’s going to get him really rolling. That’s big, especially against the Pirates.”
Matheny remains convinced Grichuk will put everything together.
“It’s a little deceptive when you look at his numbers, if you get distracted by his average,” Matheny said. “The guy’s driving in runs. He’s been hitting balls hard. Two big at-bats (Saturday). We’re trying to find good matchups (for Grichuk) when he’s in a good spot. Young player. Still learning the league, still learning himself and how to make adjustments.”
Cardinals 6, Pirates 4
Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer to righ in the ninth inning, after Pittsburgh had tied the contest in its half of the ninth, to give the Cardinals a thrilling triumph. It was St. Louis’ first victory in five meetings against the Pirates.
By the numbers
Closer Trevor Rosenthal yielded an unearned run in the ninth but wound up the winner to improve to 1-1. ... Randal Grichuk drove in three runs with a two-run single in the first and an RBI single in the eighth. ... Stephen Piscotty homered, doubled, walked and scored three runs. ... Aledmys Diaz had two hits.
Michael Wacha (2-2, 2.65 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (2-3, 3.95 ERA), 1:15 p.m. Sunday