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Cardinals salvage series finale in Pittsburgh

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- After losing four times in three days to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the St. Louis Cardinals took out their frustrations in the finale of the five-game series Thursday night.

Tony Cruz had three hits, including a two-run double in an eight-run seventh inning, and was one of six Cardinals with multiple hits as St. Louis pounded the Pirates 13-0 at PNC Park.

Winning pitcher Joe Kelly (2-3) had two hits and worked six innings of a combined five-hit shutout with Seth Maness, Michael Blazek and Edward Mujica. Kelly allowed three hits and four walks and struck out four.

Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, Matt Holliday and David Freese also had two of St. Louis' 17 hits. Craig came into the game in a 1-for-27 slump.

"Today was a good sign for our team," Craig said. "There was no panic. We brought a lot of energy. You hate to go into lulls like we did because we've played so well all season long but I think this game should get us going again."

Pirates starter Charlie Morton (3-3) struggled against the Cardinals again, giving up five runs and 10 hits in six innings with one walk and five strikeouts. He is 2-8 in his career against St. Louis.

"I made some bad pitches, some pitches that I could have executed better and other that I wasn't smart about," Morton said. "I'm not saying they wouldn't have scored any runs but I could have gone about it better."

Starling Marte had two hits for Pittsburgh, giving him a hit in all 12 career games against the Cardinals.

St. Louis entered the series with a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central but left with a 1 1/2-game deficit. The Cardinals averted being swept in a series of at least five games for the first time since 1916 when they lost every game of a six-game series to the New York Giants.

The Cardinals also snapped a season-worst seven-game losing streak.

"It's something you go to sleep thinking about and you wake up thinking about it and wonder what that sick feeling in your stomach is when you get up," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "You realize it's because we haven't been doing what we're supposed to do, what we're paid to do, and that's win ball games. "

Pittsburgh had won the previous six games in the series by a combined score of 36-10.

"It felt good," Kelly said. "The whole time going out there I was just trying to pitch as best as I could. I just wanted to compete my butt off and try as hard as I could to help us get that win."

The Cardinals scored the game's first run in the second inning when Jon Jay singled with two outs, advanced to third on a Cruz single and scored on a wild pitch by Morton.

A three-run fourth extended St. Louis' lead to 4-0. The first run scored when Jay was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and another run scored when Cruz grounded into a double player before Pete Komza hit an RBI single.

Beltran hit an RBI double in the sixth and the Cardinals turned the game into a rout with the eight-run seventh that made it 13-0. Cruz and Craig hit two-run doubles in the big inning while Jay had a run-scoring single, Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly and Matt Holliday drove in a run with a ground out.

"We had kept the cat in the bag for four games," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "Tonight, we let it out."

NOTES: Pirates C Russell Martin sat out with soreness in his left knee and Tony Sanchez started behind the plate. Martin hurt the knee last Friday and aggravated the injury on Wednesday. ... St. Louis opens a three-game series against the Reds at Cincinnati on Friday night and Pittsburgh hosts the Colorado Rockies in the first game of a three-game series. RHP Shelby Miller (10-7, 2.79 ERA) will pitch for the Cardinals against RHP Bronson Arroyo (9-8, 3.26). The Pirates will start RHP Gerrit Cole (5-4, 3.56) against Jhoulys Chacin (9-5, 3.54).
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