Cardinals beat Bucs, pull back into tie atop NL Central

10:22 PM, Sep 1, 2013   |    comments
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Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Matt Holliday and David Freese each knocked in two runs and Joe Kelly continued his dominance as a starting pitcher, helping the St. Louis Cardinals salvage the finale of a three-game set against the Pittsburgh Pirates with a 7-2 decision Sunday at PNC Park.

Allen Craig collected two hits, an RBI and two runs scored, while Yadier Molina added a pair of hits, an RBI and a run scored for the Cardinals, who snapped a three-game slide to move back into a tie with Pittsburgh atop the NL Central.

Kelly (7-3) held the Pirates to one run on four hits and two walks over six solid frames to improve to 7-0 in 10 starts since joining St. Louis' starting rotation in early July.

St. Louis did most of its damage against Pittsburgh left-hander Kris Johnson, who was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis prior to the game to make his first career start.

Johnson (0-2) failed to make it out of the third inning, surrendering five runs on seven hits and two walks in just two-plus innings to absorb the loss.

Marlon Byrd registered two of Pittsburgh's six hits while knocking in a run and scoring another for the Pirates, who were looking to complete their first three-game sweep of the Cardinals in Pittsburgh since Sept. 12-14, 2008.

The Cardinals jumped on Johnson in the first, as Matt Carpenter clubbed a leadoff double and Shane Robinson followed with a walk. After a Holliday fly out, both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch before Craig looped a single into shallow center field to score Carpenter from third for a 1-0 lead.

Molina followed with a line-drive single to left to plate Robinson and double St. Louis' lead before Freese walked on five pitches to load the bases for Jon Jay, who laced a sacrifice fly to center to score Craig for a 3-0 lead.

The Cardinals added to their edge in the third, as Craig and Molina opened the frame with back-to-back singles before Freese followed with a double into the gap in left-center to score both runners for a 5-0 cushion.

St. Louis tacked on two more runs in the sixth. Kelly and Carpenter stroked back-to-back two-out singles before Robinson walked to load the bases. After a brief meeting at the mound, Holliday punched a base hit through the right side of the infield to score Kelly and Carpenter for a 7-0 cushion.

Pittsburgh manufactured a run in the home half when Byrd singled home Andrew McCutchen, who was hit by a pitch with one out before moving into scoring position on a groundout.

Byrd led off the home half of the ninth with a double to left and moved to third on a fly out before scoring on John Buck's single to center.

Edward Mujica quickly put Pittsburgh's comeback bid to rest by getting Jordy Mercer to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Game Notes

Pittsburgh first baseman Justin Morneau, who was acquired from the Twins on Saturday, made his Pirates debut and finished 1-for-3 with a walk ... Prior to the game, St. Louis activated catcher Tony Cruz off the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Adron Chambers from Triple-A Memphis ... In addition to recalling Johnson, Pittsburgh activated outfielder Travis Snider from the 15-day disabled list and selected the contract of pitcher Kyle Farnsworth from Indianapolis ... The Pirates went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

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