PITTSBURGH Trailing by a run in the ninth inning, the St. Louis Cardinals were in position to pull out another win and series.
They had runners on first and second with one out against Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon.
But this time Melancon halted the Cardinals by striking out Jason Heyward and getting a game-ending groundout from Pete Kozma to pick up his seventh save in a 4-3 Pittsburgh win on Sunday.
“You got the winning run on base right there,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “That’s one you kind of hope to capitalize on. It’s come to almost be the expectation of this club and that’s a good thing.”
Jung Ho Kang went 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBIs and the Pirates handed St. Louis its first series loss of the season.
With the game tied 3-3, Kang hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning.
Kang hit his second home run of the season in the first inning, a shot to left field off a 0-2 fastball left over the middle of the plate from St. Louis left-hander Tyler Lyons. Kang’s home run gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead.
“It was supposed to be in,” Lyons said. “It started middle-in and ran to the middle so altogether from the beginning it wasn’t the pitch I wanted to make.”
The Pirates added a run in the fourth when Starling Marte reached on an infield single and advanced to third when Lyons’ throw went wide of first base. Jordy Mercer hit a line drive that Matt Reynolds couldn’t handle at third, allowing Marte to score for a 2-0 Pirates lead.
Jeff Locke was dominant through five shutout innings before Peter Bourjos singled and Kolten Wong hit a two-out, two-run home run to tie it at 2-2 in the sixth.
“He had to come up with a different program against a team that can challenge you offensively,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “The last two innings, the third out was the hard one for him to get.”
Pittsburgh retook the lead in the sixth when Andrew McCutchen led off with a double to right-center and scored on Gregory Polanco’s sacrifice fly.
Lyons lasted five innings and gave up three runs and five hits. He walked one and struck out five.
“He had good sink today,” Matheny said. “He made some good four-seam pitches and we saw the strikeouts with his curveball. . It was a much-improved outing from what we had before.”
The Cardinals tied the game in the seventh when Reynolds doubled with two outs and scored on Jason Heyward’s RBI single.
Locke left after 6 2/3 innings and gave up three runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out one.
Jared Hughes (1-1) got the final out of the seventh for the victory.
Harris (1-1) gave up a run and a hit and walked two in the seventh.
Outfielder Matt Holliday’s walk in the sixth put him on base for the 29th consecutive game, tying Enos Slaughter’s 1938 mark for the third-longest streak to start a season in franchise history. Albert Pujols holds the top two spots with 33- and 42-game streaks to begin the 2005 and 2008 seasons, respectively.
St. Louis: Outfielder Jon Jay was out of the starting lineup with a jammed thumb suffered in Saturday night’s game. Jay entered as a pinch-runner in the ninth.
Pittsburgh: Starling Marte started after he was removed with dizziness Saturday. … RHP Charlie Morton (hip) will throw a side session at Double-A Altoona on Monday before making his second rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Indianapolis.
St. Louis: The Cardinals are off Monday before they continue their six-game road trip in Cleveland. RHP Lance Lynn (1-3, 3.82 ERA) starts for St. Louis against Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 4.71 ERA). Pittsburgh: The Pirates begin a seven-game road trip as they head across the state for four games in Philadelphia. RHP Gerrit Cole (4-1, 2.27 ERA) faces RHP Jerome Williams (2-2, 5.18 ERA) as the Pirates look to continue their winning ways against the Phillies. Pittsburgh is 14-7 against its interstate rival over the past three seasons.