It took one swing of Pedro Alvarez’s bat, a first inning grand slam, to give Jeff Karstens a big cushion, ultimately leading to a seven-inning performance and a 7-3 Pirates win.
It was Karsten’s second start since coming off of the disabled list and his first win of the season. He allowed two runs and struck out seven Cardinals batters in his seven frames of work.
The first inning started smoothly for Cardinals starter Lance Lynn as he got the first two outs, but then Andrew McCutchen and Garrett Jones both singled and Neil Walker worked a walk. Alvarez then deposited a pitch into right field for his second career grand slam and 15th homer of the season.
The Cardinals cut into the Pirates lead when Jon Jay’s ground out scored Tony Cruz and Matt Holiday’s single scoreeday to make it 4-2 in favor of the Pirates.
The Pirates got those two runs back in the top of the fifth inning when a Walker double scored Jose Tabata and a Clint Barmes fielder’s choice plated Jones.
The Cardinals struck one last time in the eighth inning as a Carlos Beltran hit a double off of Tony Watson to score Jay and make it 7-3.
Pittsburgh added to the lead in the ninth inning when Drew Sutton grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Presley.
Jared Hughes came in for Watson with two outs in the eighth and pitched a perfect ninth inning for the first save in his Major League career.
- Pedro Alvarez is one of four National League hitters to hit 10 or more homers on the road.
- Hughes is the fifth Pirates reliever to record a save this season. Chris Resop, Jason Grilli, Juan Cruz and Joel Hanrahan are the others.
- Andrew McCutchen sprained his left wrist making a diving catch on a Carlos Beltran line drive. He remained in the game but left a few innings later. Manager Clint Hurdle said afterward he hopes to rest McCutchen in lieu of putting him on the DL. The Pirates are not off until July’s All-Star break.
The Pirates will try to sweep the series on Sunday, sending Erik Bedard (4-8, 4.27) to the hill. Cardinals’ outfielder Matt Holiday is 6-14 (.429) against Bedard. The Cards will counter with Jake Westbrook (6-6, 3.77). Pedro Alvarez is 5-11 (.455) with a homer and 5 RBI against Westbrook.