John Jaso, Gregory Polanco, Gerrit Cole and the Pirates whipped the Cardinals 10-5 Sunday to escape St. Louis with a series victory.
The Cardinals scored first on a Brandon Moss double in the third, but the Pirates scored three in the fifth. Jordy Mercer walked and came all the way around on a rare extra-base hit by Chris Stewart. Two batters later, Jaso's line drive went just over the wall in right field for his third homer of the season. Then in the sixth, Starling Marte hit a ground-rule double, then came home on a line-drive single by David Freese.
Cole gave a run back on Jeremy Hazelbaker's solo homer in the bottom of the inning and left the game after throwing 104 pitches through six, but otherwise was terrific, striking out seven, walking just two and getting a ton of called strikes.
The Bucs opened the floodgates in the seventh. Matt Joyce walked and Jaso doubled to start the inning, and then Andrew McCutchen singled Joyce home. Then Polanco hit a home run that was confusing and impressive at the same time -- he took an awkward, defensive-looking swing at Matt Bowman's two-seamer, and it went as a line drive to the opposite field that somehow tapped the foul pole and slid down. Sean Rodriguez, who was pinch-running for Jaso, appeared to be unsure what was going on, and I wasn't sure for a second there either. In any case, it would have been hard to imagine Polanco homering on that kind of swing a couple years ago -- his power has come a long way.
Kyle Lobstein replaced Cole in the bottom of the inning and briefly made things interesting, allowing a walk, a single and a walk to load the bases, giving up a run on a force out, and leading the Bucs to bring in Arquimedes Caminero. Caminero wasn't much better, allowing a runner to move up via a wild pitch and then giving up a two-run single to Yadier Molina. Caminero has now allowed 11 walks and 16 hits in 13 2/3 innings this season, and doesn't seem like the guy to use if a pitcher has started a fire that needs to be put out (not that the Bucs' bullpen is filled with those kinds of firemen right now). The Pirates wisely yanked him after that, and Neftali Feliz notched a strikeout to finally end the inning.
The Bucs tacked on a couple runs in the ninth for good measure, thanks to a double from Marte and RBI singles by Josh Harrison and Stewart. They notched 14 hits total, including three each for Jaso (who came within a triple of the cycle) and Marte.
As if to underscore my point about certain relievers not being particularly reliable, Ryan Vogelsong took over in the ninth and loaded the bases, leading the Bucs to bring in Mark Melancon, who got the save. Let's not focus on the negative, though -- the Pirates are now 17-14, and they've won five of six so far this season against St. Louis. The Reds are up next.