PITTSBURGH (AP) Randal Grichuk scored after an error by Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer, capping a frantic ninth-rally that lifted the surging St. Louis Cardinals over Pittsburgh 4-3 on Friday night.
The playoff-chasing Cardinals won their fifth straight, despite trailing by a run entering the ninth.
Stephen Piscotty led off with a double to right against closer Felipe Rivero (5-3), and Jedd Gyorko followed with a pinch-hit RBI single. After Tommy Pham’s single, Grichuk pinch-ran for Gyorko at third. He scored when Mercer misplayed Dexter Fowler’s sharp groundball.
St. Louis began a three-game set in Pittsburgh just 1.5 games behind Colorado for the second wild-card spot in the National League after taking three straight against Cincinnati, a resounding bounce back after getting swept last weekend by the Chicago Cubs.
Former Pirates reliever Juan Nicasio (4-5) got the win after working the eighth and ninth. Fowler and Piscotty had two hits each.
David Freese had an RBI double for the Pirates, who have dropped eight of nine. Rivero blew a save for only the second time in 20 chances this season.
St. Louis tagged struggling starter Ivan Nova for a run in each of the first two innings, the run in the second coming after Nova tried to get the lead runner at third base on a grounder back to the mound but threw the ball into left field.
Nova steadied himself after that, lasting five innings while allowing two runs, one earned, with two strikeouts and a season-high four walks.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha wobbled in the fourth, giving up a run-scoring double to Freese. Pittsburgh tied it 2-2 a batter later when Josh Bell slid under Yadier Molina’s tag following a grounder to first.
The Pirates took a 3-2 lead in the seventh when Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong flipped a potential double-play grounder high over the head of second baseman Kolten Wong and into right field, allowing Max Moroff to score from second.
Cardinals: First baseman Jose Martinez left in the bottom of the seventh with left thumb soreness. Martinez hit into a double play to end the top of the inning and came out to field his position but left almost immediately, shaking his left hand as he made his way to the dugout. Matt Carpenter moved from third base to first, with Alex Mejia taking over at third.
Cardinals: Lance Lynn (11-7, 3.09 ERA) looks for just his second win in the last six weeks on Saturday. Lynn is 7-6 with a 4.50 ERA in 20 career starts against the Pirates.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (11-11, 4.13) has received just five runs of support in his last five starts. Cole’s 32nd start of the season will tie a career high set in 2015.