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Bullpen pitches 5 scoreless innings as Pirates beat Cardinals again

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

The Pirates' bullpen shut the Cardinals down for five scoreless innings, giving the Bucs' offense time to come back and beat the Cards yet again, 5-4.

St. Louis scored two off Jeff Locke in the first, mostly on a series of ground balls. The Bucs got one back in the bottom of the inning when Starling Marte led off with a walked, moved to second on a groundout, and came home on Pedro Alvarez's line-drive single.

The Cards went up 3-1 in the third on an RBI groundout by Tony Cruz. Neil Walker hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning, but Carlos Beltran doubled with one out in the fourth and came home on a single by Matt Holliday. Clint Barmes doubled in a run in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-3.

Locke left after four, having given up four runs, but striking out six and walking one.

"Probably this was the most on/off we've seen Jeff," Clint Hurdle said. "The strike one was there, and then the ability to really get the ball glove-side to right-handers like he's done, that didn't play out tonight. ... He was working uphill the entire four innings."

Hurdle opted to let the bullpen take over, and did it ever. Vin Mazzaro pitched scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, and in between, Starling Marte led off the bottom of the fifth with a bunt single and came home on a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Tony Watson pitched the seventh and eighth, and after that, Neil Walker singled, moved up on a sacrifice fly, and gave the Pirates the lead as he came home on a single by Russell Martin. Walker looked more jubilant than I've ever seen him as he entered the dugout and exchanged high fives with his teammates. Walker's run made it 5-4, Bucs, and that's the way it would stay, as Mark Melancon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

Walker's heads-up baserunning turned out to be crucial.

"We can use this park, with the length in left field, the North Shore Notch ... Neil's been on top of it." Hurdle said. "It's a good baseball play."

The Bucs will attempt the rare five-game sweep tomorrow.

David Manel contributed to this post.