PITTSBURGH (AP) — Russell Martin drove home Neal Walker with the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-4 on Wednesday night.
Martin’s sharp grounder off Trevor Rosenthal (1-2) rolled into left field, giving Walker enough time to score from second. The Pirates’ fourth straight win over the Cardinals gave Pittsburgh a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL Central.
St. Louis left 11 runners on base and dropped its seventh consecutive game. The Cardinals led 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 but couldn’t hold on.
Tony Watson (3-1) worked two shutout innings in relief. Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth for his fifth save.
Matt Holliday had three hits and drove in two runs, and the Cardinals’ struggling offense put together 13 hits.
Walker hit his seventh homer of the season off Adam Wainwright in the first inning, starting a pattern that repeated itself throughout the night. The Cardinals found ways to score off starter Jeff Locke, but Pittsburgh kept chipping away.
Martin’s second hit of the night gave Pittsburgh its 25th comeback win of the season.
The teams with the two best records in the National League were mostly spectators before Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline, though the Pirates acquired minor leaguer Robert Andino from Seattle.
Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington stressed he aggressively sought help for one of the National League’s weaker offenses but didn’t want to do it while gutting a replenished farm system.
“We talk a lot about, we don’t want to do something stupid,” Huntington said before the game. “We were willing to do something stupid, we just didn’t want to do anything insane.”
Instead the Pirates, like the Cardinals, opted to do nothing major. The difference is the Cardinals have a roster dotted with players sporting World Series rings. Not Pittsburgh, which is in pursuit of its first playoff appearance in more than two decades.