EditorsNote: minor edits throughout
Marcell Ozuna’s two-run homer highlighted the Cardinals’ four-run eighth inning, and St. Louis tightened the National League Central race by beating the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 Friday night.
The Cardinals snapped a five-game losing streak and moved within three games of the division-leading Chicago Cubs. Carlos Martinez (3-2), the fifth St. Louis pitcher, earned the victory on manager Mike Shildt’s 51st birthday.
The reeling Pirates lost for the 22nd time in 26 games since the All-Star break.
The Cardinals broke open a 2-2 game in the eighth inning off Richard Rodriguez (3-5). Dexter Fowler doubled, and one out later, Paul Goldschmidt hit an RBI single. Ozuna followed with a two-run shot, and Matt Carpenter later tacked on a sacrifice fly.
Josh Bell hit two doubles, running his National League-leading total to 36, and scored twice for the Pirates. He sat out the previous two games after starting August 2-for-13 and hitting just .218 in July and .208 in June.
Pirates starting pitcher Chris Archer held the Cardinals to two runs in six innings. He struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter for the first time in 21 starts this season.
Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson exited for a pinch hitter after working just four innings in which he threw 49 pitches, 31 for strikes. He allowed two runs on six hits. Relievers Tyler Webb, John Brebbia, Andrew Miller and Martinez held the Pirates in check.
On Archer’s first two pitches of the game, Dexter Fowler lined a leadoff single into right field and Tommy Edman lined a single into left-center field. Goldschmidt snapped an 0-for-15 streak with a single into right field to load the bases with no outs.
However, Archer held the Cardinals to a single run by inducing a double-play grounder from Ozuna before striking out Paul DeJong.
Bell led off the second inning with a double to deep center field. He moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Jose Osuna’s game-tying sacrifice fly.
Bell opened the fourth inning with another double, this time through the left-center-field alley. He moved to third on Osuna’s single to left and scored on Colin Moran’s sacrifice fly to put the Pirates up 2-1.
The Cardinals tied the game 2-2 in the bottom of the inning. Carpenter hit a two-out double off the right field wall, moved to third base on Kolten Wong’s bunt single and scored on Matt Wieters’ infield single.
—Field Level Media