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Pirates back Jameson Taillon with home runs, deal Cardinals blow in playoff race

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

A bathroom story:

I headed to the men’s room shortly after the conclusion of Sunday’s 4-1 Pirates win at PNC Park. There wasn’t a line to get in, but just a row of about five guys in Cardinals shirts along the urinals. They were all grumbling, and it blended together to form a sound I imagine being comparable to an angel singing. The only specific word I remember hearing was “ridiculous,” and I think they were made about Yadier Molina not playing.

Of course, rooting for the Pirates, I’m envious of a team being even somewhat close to a playoff position, playing baseball that means something, that makes you maybe feel something at the end. But it was an enjoyable scene anyway.

In the Pirates’ final Sunday home game, an occasion marked by a bunch of regular fans, ushers, vendors and other workers saying their goodbyes for the winter, Jameson Taillon pitched five good innings in his final home start, Starling Marte and Jordan Luplow added home runs and the Buccos sent those not wearing red home with something nice to hold onto, even if it’s one game at the end of a mostly disappointing slog of a season.

The Cardinals got just four hits on the day, all against Taillon. Taillon struck out six and walked one, allowing one run on a Matt Carpenter homer in the third.

The Pirates tied it at 1 in the bottom of the third. Chris Bostick, the leadoff hitter in a lineup featuring only a couple regulars, got hit by a Ron John Gant pitch, and Marte and Andrew McCutchen both singled to load the bases with no outs. Jose Osuna hit a pop-up to shallow left field and and Bostick sprinted for home — he later said it was a miscommunication with third-base coach Joey Cora. The throw was cut off — perhaps also under an assumption Bostick wouldn’t run, and Bostick beat the relay.

The Pirates completed the bad half of a little league play, with McCutchen getting in a rundown off of first and eventually getting tagged out, but Marte never breaking home from third, then Sean Rodriguez grounded out and that was all the Pirates got from that inning.

Taillon punctuated his final home start of 2017 with three strikeouts around a pair of singles, getting out of a fifth-inning jam to preserve the tie, and the Pirates’ offense quickly took advantage of that. Bostick led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, then Marte drove a Seung-Hwan Oh fastball into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer and a 3-1 Pirates lead. Luplow added a homer off Brett Cecil in the sixth.

It took the Pirates three relievers to get through the seventh — Daniel Hudson walked a couple, Dan Runzler faced one man and walked him, too, then George Kontos got a force out — but they got through that. Edgar Santana also pitched a clean sixth, and Felipe Rivero struck out two to nail it down in the ninth.

The Cardinals fell to six games back of the Cubs (winners over the Brewers) in the National League Central and (at the time) 2 back of the Rockies in the NL Wild Card.

Marte went 2-for-3 with a walk, Luplow went 2-for-4, also with a triple, and Bostick went 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

The Pirates close out their home schedule with a pair of games against the Orioles, Tuesday and Wednesday.