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Early hole, late collapse dooms Pirates

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals jumped on Trevor Cahill for four first-inning runs and then pushed across seven more in the final three innings to pull away for a 12-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates Saturday night at PNC Park.

The loss was the third straight for the Bucs, who look to salvage one game from the three-game set when the two teams meet again today at 1:05 p.m. Carlos Martinez (1-4, 4.76 ERA) will start for St. Louis while Wil Crowe (0-0, 3.86) will get his second start for Pittsburgh.

Saturday night’s game got off to an auspicious start when Tommy Edman pulled a Cahill offering down the right field line that was fielded in foul territory by a member of the Pirates ground crew. Edman wound up at second base with a double and scored on Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI single.

After Nolan Arenado walked, Paul DeJong blasted a three-run homer to left-center field to make it 4-0.

The Pirates battled back, though, scoring once in the second when Ka’ai Tom delivered a sacrifice fly. After Cahill failed to shut down the Cards in the top of third, allowing a run on Tyler O’Neill’s RBI single, the Bucs answered with two in the bottom of the inning on RBI singles by Colin Moran and Gregory Polanco.

The game remained 5-3 heading into the seventh when reliever Sam Howard, who came on in the sixth and retired the two batters he faced, walked the leadoff batter and then yielded a single to Goldschmidt.

Duane Underwood Jr. came on in place of Howard and Arenado greeted him by hitting a sinking liner to left field that appeared playable. But the diminutive Tom tried – and failed – to make a diving catch, and the ball got past him for a two-run double.

The Bucs again answered in their half of the inning, as RBI singles from Bryan Reynolds and Moran closed the gap to 7-5. Polanco, who finished 2 for 4, then hit a bullet to center that was caught for the final out of the inning.

The Cardinals put the game away by erupting for five runs off Sean Poppen in the top of the ninth.

St. Louis pummeled Pirates pitching for 15 hits on the night, with Edman going 4 for 6 and Goldschmidt and Arenado each collecting three hits. Goldschmidt scored four times and Arenado finished with three RBIs.

Cahill, coming off a solid outing against the Twins, surrendered seven hits and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. Moran led the Bucs’ nine-hit attack with three hits and two RBIs.

Pirates second baseman Adam Frazier made the defensive play of the night – and perhaps the season to this point – in the top of the fifth inning. Frazier, a Gold Glove finalist the past two years, was stationed behind second base as part of an infield shift when he ranged far to his right to field a ground ball by DeJong, then leaped a la Derek Jeter from the grass in short left field to throw DeJong out at first.