For the first time all week enough runs came before the bottom of the ninth, as the Cardinals rode their bats and the right arm of Lance Lynn to a third straight win over the Pirates, pulling within two of first-place Milwaukee in the process.
The much-maligned offense, retooled by manager Mike Matheny before the game, pounded 13 hits. It received contributions from just about every angle, except struggling right fielder Allen Craig, who Matheny slotted seventh for the first time all season.
Craig went 0 for 4.
Every other position player who batted got at least one hit, and the top four batters each collected two.
Matt Adams put the Cardinals on the board with a 2-run double in the first inning, spotting Lance Lynn an early lead he would never give up. Jhonny Peralta and Matt Holliday RBI hits added runs in the third and fourth, and Kolten Wong homered for the third time in four days in the seventh.
The second baseman won Tuesday's game with a walk-off homer and also homered Sunday, in his first game back from the disabled list. The sprained shoulder that landed him there appears fine. The sprain constricted Wong's swing, and there's been nothing constricted about his hitting lately.
Wong's homer came off lefty reliever Justin Wilson, who allowed Matt Adams' walk-off blast Monday.
Lynn allowed two earned in 6 2/3 innings for his 10th win and became the first Cardinals pitcher since Bob Gibson (1968-70) to win 10 games before the All-Star break in three consecutive seasons.
Lynn has now allowed two runs of fewer in 13 of his 19 starts. The righty struck out four and walked two, allowing four hits. He allowed runners to reach first and second with nobody out in the seventh, but Matheny let him face pinch-hitter Matt Hague. Lynn got Hauge to bounce into a double play.
He exited with a runner on third and two out, with the batter Gregory Polanco representing the tying run.
For the second straight night, Randy Choate retired the young outfielder. He struck him out Tuesday and forced a ground out Wednesday.
Oscar Taveras, back in centerfield and the No. 2 spot in the lineup, enjoyed his second consecutive two-hit game. Matt Carpenter collected two singles and scored a run. Holliday finished 2 for 3 with two walks.
Even Tony Cruz (1 for 3) and Peter Bourjos (pinch hit triple) got in on the action.
Cruz replaced Yadier Molina, who sprained his thumb sliding into third base in the second.
Molina got up slowly after taking advantage of a lackadaisical Pedro Alvarez play, advancing from second on a ground ball to third.
He was examined briefly by a trainer and stayed in the game to run. Molina caught the next inning before being replaced by Cruz.
He slid into third feet first, but used his hands to brace himself and to stay on the base. Often runners are taught to slide with their hands up, as to avoid jams and cleats.
Molina will be re-evaluated Thursday morning, the Cardinals announced.
Trevor Rosenthal earned his 27th save, working with a three-run lead in the ninth. The righty did walk another batter, though. He has now walked 26 men in 42 1/3 innings, compared to 20 in 75 1/3 innings last year, when he didn't close until the last two weeks of the season.
Rosenthal allowed a shot to center off the bat of pinch hitter Russell Martin. But Peter Boujos leaped to make an acrobatic catch at the wall that ended the game.
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