PITTSBURGH (AP) Josh Bell hit a three-run homer off Seung Hwan Oh with one out in the ninth inning to give the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.
Adam Frazier led off the bottom of the ninth with a double and Oh intentionally walked Andrew McCutchen with one out. Bell, a rookie, stepped in and sent a pitch from Oh (1-5) into the seats in left field for the first game-ending hit of his career. The Pirates have won six of seven.
Bell finished 2 for 3 with four RBIs. His 17 home runs lead the Pirates.
Felipe Rivero (4-2) earned the win after retiring the Cardinals on seven pitches in the top of the ninth.
Frazier added three hits for Pittsburgh, and Gregory Polanco had two hits and an RBI.
Jedd Gyorko hit a two-run homer in the first inning for the Cardinals, but St. Louis was limited to just four hits the rest of the way against Gerrit Cole and three relievers.
Both teams sent their de facto aces out to start the second half of the season in search of some early traction as they try to chase down first-place Milwaukee in the decidedly underwhelming and still wide-open NL Central.
Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole put together a wildly inconsistent first half that mirrored the fortunes of his scuffling team. He came in allowing one run three times in his last seven starts, the same number of times he’s allowed seven runs over the same span.
It looked as though it could be another bumpy outing in the first when Gyorko sent a 3-2 slider into the seats in right-center field to give the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead. Cole settled down immediately, allowing just two more baserunners over six innings of work, striking out four without issuing a walk.
Mike Leake wasn’t quite as crisp. He retired the Pirates in order just once in five innings, allowing an RBI single to Bell in the fourth and another to Polanco in the fifth that tied the game, capping a two-out rally created by a rare bout of wildness from Leake, who walked the bases full. He struck out Francisco Cervelli to keep the game even.
Leake left after five, giving up two runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and five walks, his highest total since May 22, 2015, while pitching for Cincinnati.
Cardinals: Placed OF Randal Grichuk (lower back strain) on the 10-day disabled list and recalled OF Jose Martinez from Triple-A Memphis. Martinez hit .280 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 50 games with St. Louis this season. … St. Louis also activated reliever Kevin Siegrist (cervical spine sprain) off the disabled list. … RF Stephen Piscotty left in the bottom of the ninth after tweaking his right leg while making a throw from the outfield. He was replaced by Martinez.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (7-6, 3.61 ERA) is coming off seven shutout innings in a victory over the New York Mets last weekend. Lynn is 6-6 with a 4.76 ERA against the Pirates.
Pirates: RHP Jameson Taillon (5-2, 2.73) will make his third career start against the Cardinals on Saturday. Taillon is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA since returning from treatment for testicular cancer. He was scratched from his scheduled start last Sunday against the Cubs after getting food poisoning.
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