The Pirates' bats got to Lance Lynn in the early innings, giving Gerrit Cole a lead, and the Bucs beat the Cardinals, 5-2, to even their four-game series at one win apiece.
A night after squandering a first-inning opportunity, the Pirates got on the board right away. Neil Walker reached on an infield single, though it was hit right at Jhonny Peralta, Andrew McCutchen singled and Jordy Mercer doubled to right-center field to score Walker.
The Cardinals pulled ahead, 2-1, on Matt Carpenter's two-run home run in the third. Tommy Pham led the inning off with a double.
The Pirates pulled back ahead, 3-2, in the bottom of the inning. Gregory Polanco drew a leadoff walk, and Walker singled. Jung-Ho Kang plated Polanco with another single. The Pirates had their nightly baserunning gaffe when Walker got hit by Mercer's grounder (though it may have actually broken up a double play -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny argued Walker did so intentionally, though replays showed Walker twisted in an attempt to get out of the way). Alvarez plated Kang on a single, which Pham slid to stop in left-center, saving a run.
It's a small sample, for sure, but for an all-or-nothing type of guy, Alvarez has gotten a few key singles lately. Whatever that's worth.
Chris Stewart led off the fourth with an infield single and Walker slugged a two-run homer to right-center to give the Bucs a 5-2 advantage.
Lynn lasted just the four innings and needed 86 pitches to do that, the Pirates touching him up for nine hits in that span.
Cole, meanwhile, was not flashy but still the solid No. 1 we've come to expect to get the job done every five days. He didn't rack up the strikeouts, getting only three. He gave up six hits, two walks and the two runs in seven innings. He stranded five, including runners on second in the first and sixth innings and one on third in the seventh to avoid damage in those innings.
Tony Watson and Mark Melancon pitched two scoreless innings of relief, with Randal Grichuk's ninth-inning single the only hit to come off of either of them.
Walker shined with a 3-for-4 performance. Kang and Mercer were both 2-for-4. Polanco drew two walks in the leadoff spot.
The Pirates moved back to within 4 1/2 games of the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central with two favorable pitching matchups ahead.