The Cardinals pulled out all the stops Saturday, using six pitchers and 12 position players in effort to beat the Pirates.
And it was enough -- by only the thinnest of margins -- to secure a 5-4 win.
Lance Lynn continued his disconcerting streak of ineffectiveness, lasting just 4 1/3 innings while allowing three earned runs on four hits and three walks. The odd thing is that Lynn doesn't seem to have lost his ability to get people out -- he whiffed eight Pirates hitters, after all. It's as if he's lost his faith in pitching the way he became so successful this season.
Hit pitch economy is terrible. It took 86 pitches to record 13 outs. Early in the game it was driving broadcaster Mike Shannon up the wall that Lynn would bust a hitter in on his hands with a pair of heavy fastballs to get ahead of the batter 0-2. Then Lynn would try to get fancy and nibble his way to a full count.
The Cardinals scored first in the opening inning when the newly healthy -- and not coincidentally newly productive -- Rafael Furcal led off with a double and was singled in by Matt Carpenter.
In the third Lynn got into two out trouble when he hit batter Sterling Marte to put two on with two down. Jordy Mercer singled to tie the game. Then Lynn managed to get a strikeout with runners at second and third to end the inning.
St. Louis quickly struck back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth when David Freese walked and Yadier Molina doubled and then Shane Robinson knocked them in with a two bagger to make the score 3-1.
Again the Cardinals gave the lead back in the top of the fifth when Marte singled and Mercer doubled to make the score 3-2 and then Garrett Jones hit a one-out sacrifice fly to tie the score.
The Cardinals got singles from Furcal and Craig and a walk by Freese to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and Molina came to the plate. The Cardinals catcher, freshly returned to the roster after a bout of back trouble, hit a ground rule double to right field to re-establish a two-run lead at 5-3.
In came Jason Motte, who blew a save in the series finale against Arizona the last time he appeared.
The Redbirds closer gave up a lead-off single, then Freese botched an easy ball to third base that might have been a double play. Backhanding the ball, Freese boxed it into foul territory and the Pirates were in business with two on and no outs.
Before Pittsburgh could even attempt a bunt to move the scoring run into scoring position via a sacrifice, Motte hit rookie Mercer with a pitch to bring the best hitter in the National League -- Andrew McCutchen -- to the plate with the bases loaded and no one out.
McCutchen drove in a run with a grounder to third that was slowly turned or else it might have been the Cardinals second opportunity to turn two. Motte struck out Jones for the second out and, with the tying run 90 feet from home plate, he coaxed a groundball to short from Josh Harrison that mercifully ended the game.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Molina was 3-for-4 with a run scored and a pair batted in.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Molina's double
Lowlight: Lynn's rough go of it lately has to concern the Cardinals. He needs to get things straightened out or he could face losing his rotation spot to Joe Kelley.