Mercer lifts himself as he lifts Pirates

Mercer lifts himself as he lifts Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- Jordy Mercer pulled into second base on his go-ahead two-run double and clapped animatedly "for the team."

"We showed a lot of character today," Mercer said after the Bucs closed out the 7-5 victory over the Cardinals at PNC Park on Saturday night. "We got out to a lead, then they scored five on us, and we bounced right back. That's what I was pumped about."

Mercer, however, had to have a little personal pump going, too. He had begun the game 4-for-25 and was already hitless in two at-bats when Seth Maness, St. Louis' double-play machine, came in to face him with the bases loaded and one out.

Mercer skied Maness' first pitch high off the center-field wall, a little short of a grand slam but with plenty of distance to give himself a lift.

"It was good for me personally, but even better for the team," Mercer said.

So he celebrated. Manager Clint Hurdle understood.

"You run through a lot of emotions," Hurdle said. "You know you're better and want to contribute more and are not getting it done. When you're able to answer like that ... sure."

With an earlier run-scoring infield grounder, Mercer enjoyed a three-RBI night, nearly doubling his previous season output of four.

Mercer's RBI groundout

Not only was he starting the evening with a batting average of .186, but he was doing it under the cloud of Jung Ho Kang, who is hitting .318 after his 2-for-4 performance on Saturday.

"We have every confidence that [Mercer] will be the player we saw last year," Hurdle said.

Same player, perhaps on the same timeline. Mercer finished the Bucs' May 9, 2014, game with a .191 average, precisely the same mark with which he went home on Saturday night. The rest of the 2014 season, he hit .270 with power.

Touching all the bases

• First: Because of Starling Marte's early departure and other subsequent moves, Josh Harrison made his first appearance in left field since last Aug. 9.

• Second: Mark Melancon converted his first save opportunity in two weeks; in his last seven appearances of an inning each, he has faced a total of 23 men while getting 21 outs.

Melancon closes it out

• Third: Andrew McCutchen (6-for-13) has raised his average 32 points over the last three games.

• Home: The Pirates and Cardinals are two of the three MLB teams (Philadelphia is the other) without a home run out of their catchers.

Tom Singer is a reporter for 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.