Austin Meadows was nearly the man again. In a game that featured four solo homers and a lot of long outs, the Pirates twice homered to knot the score, but Kolten Wong, the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, greeted Richard Rodriguez with a drive to right that sent the St. Louis fans home exuberant for the second time in three days.
Both Chad Kuhl and Luke Weaver pitched solid games. Kuhl fell behind 1-0 when Cardinals’ clean-up hitter Marcell Ozuna led off the second with a 417 foot drive into the hitting background beyond the center field fence. Weaver held on to that 1-0 lead, allowing two hits without a walk, until Colin Moran led off the top of the fifth with a solo homer of his own, deep to right.
Kuhl had been nearly as sharp, as besides the homer St. Louis had only managed a pair of singles in their first four trips, but that ground to a halt in the fifth. After not walking a batter all day, Kuhl fastball missed badly as he walked the pitcher Weaver with one out. Matt Carpenter was called out on a back door curve, but Greg Garcia worked another fife-pitch walk before Tommy Pham laced a single to left that plated Weaver with the go ahead run, 2-1.
Despite letting his pitcher hit, Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny decided Weaver’s day was done and sent out Rookie pitcher Austin Gomber to make his major league debut. Austin Meadows greeted the left-hander with a walk, but Josh Bell’s double-play grounder ended any threat. Gomber retired the first two in the seventh before Elias Diaz gave the crowd a scare with a long drive that Dexter Fowler pulled in at the fence in right center
Gomber went out for yet a third inning, to see Jorder Mercer, David Freese and Josh Harrison each hit long balls that were all pulled in by the left field Ozuna, two of them on the warning track.
The Pirates had one final shot, facing St. Louis closer Bud Norris, who’d been perfect in 11 save attempts so far this year - but May’s Rookie of the Month Meadows slammed a 2-1 pitch into the seats near the right field foul pole for his fifth homer, tying the game at two apiece.
With the memory of Felipe Vazquez’s epic meltdown on Thursday still fresh, rookie Richard Rodriguez was given a glimpse inside the Circle of Trust as he took the mound in the bottom of the ninth. It didn’t last long, however, as Kolten Wong lined a 1-1 pitch just over the right field fence, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 victory. It was the fourth time that Wong has ended a St. Louis victory over the Pirates with a walk-off homerun.
The loss puts the Pirates’ season record at 30-28, 6.5 games behind the Brewers and and two behind the Cardinals. The two teams will conclude their four-game series Sunday afternoon at 2:15 pm Eastern, as rookie Nick Kingham (2-1) faces Michael Wacha (6-1).