ST. LOUIS -- One inning after David Freese added another game-tying, two-out hit to his Busch Stadium resume, John Jaso capped the Pirates' comeback with a solo homer that stood as the difference in Pittsburgh's 4-3 win.
The back-and-forth affair was nothing new for these two teams; they played a trio of one-run games at Busch Stadium earlier this year. The difference, however, was who won this one. With their victory Friday, the Pirates snapped their seven-game losing streak at Busch Stadium.
"We just keep going. I'm not quite sure if 80 wins will win the division or not, but nobody wants to take it right now. We've just got to keep battling right now," Freese said. "You need to string some W's together if you're going to play in October. Every team in this division's trying to do that."
Held hitless over the final four innings of Adam Wainwright's start, the Pirates' offense found some life against the two relievers who have been the Cardinals' most reliable this season. A single by Adam Frazier got Trevor Rosenthal into some eighth-inning trouble, and Freese completed the rally with an RBI single to right. Jaso entered the game as part of a double-switch in the bottom half of the inning, then took Seung Hwan Oh deep on the eighth pitch of his ninth-inning at-bat.
DeJong's fifth home run of the season would have made a winner of Wainwright, if not for the bullpen meltdown. Nevertheless, Wainwright was able to bounce back in a big way on the heels of the worst start of his career. Josh Bell tagged him for a second-inning solo homer, and the Pirates scored their other run with the aid of a one-out walk and two-base error by DeJong in the fourth.
"It was 10 steps above everything," Wainwright said of the outing, which followed three starts in which he allowed a combined 20 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings. "When you have a couple games like I had, you have to look back and figure out what the problem is. Command-wise, that's always been something that has been my strength. I've had way too many misses all year long."
Pirates starter Jameson Taillon was nearly as good. Making his third start since returning from testicular cancer surgery, Taillon notched his first quality start in more than two months. Three of the Cardinals' four hits off him didn't leave the infield.
"Outside of the one pitch, I don't think I really made any mistakes," Taillon said. "I feel strong. I feel where I need to be. All my pitches are there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Escape artist: Since taking over as the Pirates' unofficial closer, Felipe Rivero has been thrust into a handful of unconventional situations. He entered another one Friday night, replacing Juan Nicasio with one out and runners on the corners in the eighth inning. The flame-throwing lefty retired Aledmys Diaz on a soft line drive to third base, then unleashed a 101.8-mph fastball that DeJong popped up to right field. Just like that, Rivero was out of the inning.
He slammed the door by retiring three of the four hitters he faced in the ninth. Rivero's three saves all required at least four outs, as did the win he picked up on Friday.
Dandy defense: Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco made a pair of diving catches -- including his first 4- and 5-star catches of the year -- to help thwart potential Cardinals rallies. Polanco's 5-star catch ended the seventh and left a pair of baserunners stranded. Polanco robbed Tommy Pham of a hit by covering 38 feet in 2.9 seconds, according to Statcast™. An inning earlier, Polanco turned a sinking liner by Martinez with a 35-percent catch probability into a double play.
"This level, you're going to see stuff like that," said Martinez, who had worked an 11-pitch at-bat before lining his ball to right. "I tried to put the ball in play and he caught it. He made a couple good catches today that killed us."
Polanco capped his night by making a sliding catch to end the eighth with runners on the corners.
But Polanco wasn't the only outfielder turning in defensive gems at Busch Stadium on Friday. Pham also notched his first 4-star grab of the season when he made a diving catch to steal a hit from Jordy Mercer in the second. The play, which ended the inning, had a catch probability of 26 percent.
"This guy, he pours into everything he does. He pays attention. ... He's a baseball player. He likes to play. A lot of people get caught up in the hair. There's a baseball player in there." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on the dreadlocked Jaso
"We're in a division where they can see the competition. We can win the division. They believe we can win the division, so we've just got to keep playing." --Hurdle, on the National League Central
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The game-winning home run was Jaso's 50th career homer. Twelve of them have come in the seventh inning or later, including four this season, and each of his last four home runs have broken a tie.
The Cardinals' medical staff did not clear Dexter Fowler (left quad tightness) to pinch-hit Friday, which precluded him from being an option off the bench for Matheny when the potential tying run reached in the ninth. Matheny also wanted to stay away from Yadier Molina, who is dealing with tightness around one of his knees.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: After a four-start rough patch, right-hander Gerrit Cole has rounded back into form heading into Saturday's 7:15 p.m. ET matchup with the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Cole has made back-to-back seven-inning starts in which he has allowed one run on three hits against a pair of dynamic lineups, the Rockies' and Brewers'. He owns a 2.84 ERA in 11 career starts against the Cards.
Cardinals: Lance Lynn, who will start Saturday's 6:15 p.m. CT game against the Pirates, has not allowed a run in his last 12 innings against Pittsburgh . He allowed a season-high seven runs and four home runs in his last outing and will be trying to finish six innings for the first time since May 23.