PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ke’Bryan Hayes homered for the second straight game, Connor Joe hit a go-ahead two-run double in the sixth inning and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Saturday.
Hayes, whose three-run homer Friday night helped the Pirates rally from a five-run deficit, tied it in fifth off Jordan Montgomery (2-7) with a blast into the left-field bleachers. Joe put Pittsburgh in front with a lined shot to the wall in left an inning later as the Pirates pushed their winning streak to four games.
Pittsburgh’s bullpen held firm after an hour rain-delay ended starter Luis Ortiz’s day early. Dauri Moreta (3-1) struck out Willson Contreras with two on to end the top of the sixth. David Bednar worked the ninth for his 12th save.
Contreras hit his sixth homer of the season off Ortiz in the second inning. Nolan Gorman hit a two-run shot in the eighth to bring the Cardinals within one but St. Louis could not draw even.
The Cardinals have dropped four of five to sap some of the energy out of a May surge that helped them shake off a 10-24 start and get within shouting distance of the leaders in the NL Central.
It’s a group the Pirates find themselves a part of thanks to a bullpen that has evolved from a question mark to a strength. Pittsburgh called up relievers Angel Perdomo and Yerry De Los Santos on Saturday and immediately put them to work, with the two covering three innings of scoreless relief shortly after arriving on a plane from Triple-A Indianapolis.
Pittsburgh has steadied itself following dismal May in which it squandered most of its sizzling 20-8 start. The offense was the biggest concern during an 8-18 swoon, but the Pirates have figured things out of late.
Hayes has seven RBIs over his last three games, the result of significant tweaks to his swing following a couple of extended sessions in the batting cage with hitting coach Andy Haines.
A day after one of the biggest hits of his young career, Hayes followed up with a blast in the fifth that pulled Pittsburgh even and helped end Montgomery’s bid to win for the first time in nearly two months.
Montgomery remained winless since April 8 when things got away from him in the sixth. Pittsburgh’s rally began when 10-time Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado misplayed a groundball to Mark Mathias to start the inning.
Jason Delay sacrificed pinch-runner Ji Hwan Bae to second. Bryan Reynolds walked with two outs and Joe followed by ripping a line drive over the lead of St. Louis leftfielder Brendan Donovan. Carlos Santana followed with an RBI-single that provided just enough cushion for the Pirates to hold on.
St. Louis has lost each of Montgomery’s last 10 starts, seven of them by one run.
ON THE MOVE
To make room for Perdomo and De Los Santos on the roster, Pittsburgh optioned reliever Cody Bolton to Triple-A Indianapolis and designated infielder Chris Owings for assignment.
The series wraps up Sunday with an 11:35 a.m. EDT matinee. Miles Mikolas (4-1, 3.75 ERA) starts for the Cardinals. The 34-year-old tied a career high with 10 strikeouts in a win over Kansas City last Tuesday. Rich Hill (4-5, 4.76) gets the nod for Pittsburgh. Hill has lost each of his last two starts.