ST. LOUIS -- Shortly before sprinting from first to home as Gregory Polanco's ill-advised attempt to scoop Yadier Molina's line drive left the ball rolling toward the right-field wall, Randal Grichuk had felt every bit the center of the same unwanted spotlight that Polanco did.
Polanco's poor decision allowed Grichuk to score as the go-ahead run in what would stick as a 4-2 Cardinals win over the Pirates. The score had only been tied, however, because Grichuk had already made a fielding mistake of his own.
"It's not a good feeling," Grichuk said, commiserating about Polanco afterward. "That's for sure."
In the fifth, with Michael Wacha nursing a one-run lead with a runner at first and one out, Andrew McCutchen lined a ball toward center field. Grichuk misread the trajectory and never could recover. Getting ready to make a diving attempt, he instead slipped to the ground, and the ball bounced past him for a game-tying triple.
"It kind of started dying," Grichuk said afterward. "I tried to stay on my feet and couldn't. I tried to bat it down and couldn't. I came back in [to the dugout] and got some other guys' opinion on it, and they said it kind of knuckled and died and that's when I read it. I just couldn't stay on my feet."
"The first step is so crucial, and that's something that he's working on and needs to continue to work on," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's a talented player, and we've seen when his timing is right and when he's trusting himself; I think it usually goes hand in hand with how you're feeling physically, and he has a couple of things that have been bothering him that get in your mind about how aggressive he can be. So I think he's doubting himself, and he's probably breaking back a little bit more than he needs to. That leaves him to where he's susceptible to the ball coming in."
Grichuk acknowledged that he has been dealing with a sore left foot for several weeks. The issue, which had previously been undisclosed, has led him to receive daily treatment to reduce some of the muscle discomfort.
"I'm trying to get past that," he said. "It's getting better, but it's still there."
Though frustrated by his fielding fumble, Grichuk did spark the game-winning rally in his first at-bat afterward. His one-out single in the sixth inning off Gerrit Cole positioned him to score the first of two runs the Cardinals needed to seal a win that increased their division lead over the Pirates to seven games.
"Any time you make a mistake," Grichuk said, "you have to put it behind you, or it's going to affect you the rest of the game."