ST. LOUIS -- October baseball in early May? That's how it felt Saturday, when the Pirates and the Cardinals got into it for 11 more tense innings before Matt Carpenter's sacrifice fly off Jared Hughes with one out in the 11th gave St. Louis another 2-1 win. Their second consecutive extra-inning win over the Bucs by that score extended the Redbirds' winning streak to five.
Reverting to the last 2014 meeting of the teams, this was the Cardinals' third straight walk-off win over the Pirates, and fifth of their last eight home wins over Pittsburgh. The Pirates left 18 men on base -- 10 in scoring position -- and went 1-for-13 with RISP.
Carpenter came through after the Cardinals had opened the 11th with three consecutive hits off the sinkerballing Hughes. However, Peter Bourjos was picked off second following his leadoff double. Then ground-ball singles by Pete Kozma and Jon Jay put runners at the corners for Carpenter against Hughes.
"That's why I stayed with him -- he was rolling ground balls," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Hughes, "and getting good action on his pitches. But that's what happens when you play with no safety net."
For the second straight day, the teams' starters locked up in a pitchers' duel. Pittsburgh lefty Francisco Liriano carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning -- Bourjos' leadoff single broke it up -- and went eight, allowing three hits with three walks and four strikeouts. St. Louis' John Lackey allowed six hits in six innings, with three walks and four strikeouts.
"He was nasty," Carpenter said of Liriano. "He no-hit us through six or seven, whatever it was. Just had it all working. He always gives us fits, but that's as good as I've seen him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED McCutchen in flight: Probably nothing unnerves Pirates fans more than the thought of Andrew McCutchen being injured. They could breathe easier after a quick third-inning sequence, in which McCutchen first charged in to grab Kolten Wong's sinking liner, then retreated to the warning track to run down Bourjos' drive. McCutchen's availability for Saturday's game was uncertain after he had jammed his tender left knee on a slide into second Friday night. More >
Comeback Cards: For the second game in a row, the Cardinals erased a 1-0 deficit to beat the Pirates in extra innings. The Cardinals managed just six hits on Saturday, but they strung two together while tying the game in the sixth and had three consecutive hits in the 11th before Carpenter's sac fly. More >
Francisco magnifico: Even when Liriano faltered, he impressed. After holding the Cardinals hitless through five, he gave up back-to-back singles to Bourjos and pinch-hitter Jason Heyward to start the sixth to put men at the corners and none out. Liriano turned the Cards away with only one run, on an infield grounder. More >
Sweet relief: The Cardinals' bullpen turned in five more scoreless innings in relief of Lackey against the Pirates on Saturday. The bullpen hasn't allowed a run in 20 consecutive innings, spanning five games. More >
"It's amazing -- and a big relief for you." Liriano, on plays by McCutchen in the third and third baseman Josh Harrison in the fourth that kept alive his no-hit bid through five innings.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time the Pirates had 18 men left on base, it took them 18 innings -- on May 27, 2006, during an 8-7 win over Houston in PNC Park. The Bucs had not stranded as many as 18 men in a game against St. Louis since May 24, 1972, when they left 19 in 14 innings of a 9-4 win.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: With a split in the first eight games, the Bucs try to complete a winning road trip -- something they did not manage last season until May 26-June 4 -- behind right-hander Vance Worley in the 2:15 p.m. ET finale of the series with the Cardinals.
Cardinals: Right-hander Michael Wacha will take the mound for the Cardinals as they try for the sweep against the Pirates. In the past three seasons, the Bucs are 5-16 at Busch Stadium, and they haven't won a series on the road against the Cardinals since April 26-28, 2013.
Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com. Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.