PITTSBURGH (AP) — J.A. Happ combined with a trio of relievers on a one-hitter, Tommy Edman and Paul DeJong homered early and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the skidding Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Happ (6-6) retired the first nine batters, then gave up rookie Hoy Park’s first career home run to lead off the fourth inning.
”I was able to get a couple of quick outs to manage the pitch count and (catcher Yadier Molina) was great back there and we were on the same page all night,” Happ said. “I was just trying to execute pitches and it turned out pretty well.”
Making his second start for the Cardinals since being acquired from the Twins in a July 30 trade, Happ struck out five and walked two.
“He’s under control with everything he’s doing,” St. Louis manager Mike Shidlt said of the 38-year-old Happ. “He’s got the pitches. His fastball has life to it. He’s in control and that allows him to be steady and win games.”
The left-hander took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning against the Pirates on April 23 at Minnesota and wound up allowing one hit in 7 2/3 innings.
“Both of his starts against us, he’s really executed balls to both sides (of the plate), especially the fastball,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said.
Relievers Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes teamed for three hitless innings. Reyes pitched a perfect ninth for his 26th save in 27 chances.
“It was fun to see those guys come in and continue to close the door with the lead,” Happ said.
The Cardinals (56-56) reached .500 for the 22nd time this season. The Pirates’ losing streak was extended to six games and they have dropped 16 of 21.
Edman led off the game with a drive into the left-field bleachers off Steven Brault, the second leadoff homer of his career. DeJong’s solo shot in the second increased the Cardinals’ lead to 2-0.
The Cardinals entered the night 10 ½ games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central race and 8 ½ games out of the second wild card.
“We’re at the point of the season where we have to do everything we can to win every game, win every series,” DeJong said. “At this point of the season, an early lead can do a lot. Ideally, we just try to put the pressure on them right away in games we’ve got to win.”
Brault (0-1) gave up two runs and five hits in five innings in his second start of the season. He returned to the active roster last week after missing four months with a strained left lat muscle.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Shelton said. “He continues to improve, continues to execute pitches.”
Rookie Dylan Carlson had three of the Cardinals’ eight hits and scored on shortstop Kevin Newman’s fielding error during a two-run sixth inning that pushed the lead to 4-1. Harrison Bader followed the miscue with an RBI single.
Utility player Erik Gonzalez has cleared waivers and been assigned to Triple-A Indianapolis by the Pirates. He was designated for assignment last week.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (strained left oblique) will be activated from the 60-day injured list Friday and start at Kansas City that night. He has been out since June 1. … LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (left elbow inflammation) was placed on the 10-day IL and RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (right shoulder discomfort) was activated from the 10-day IL. An MRI revealed no structural damage in Kim’s elbow. … RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm tightness) will make one more rehab start before activated. He has pitched twice for Triple-A Memphis and twice for Double-A Springfield. … LF Tyler O’Neill sat out after having his second COVID-19 vaccination shot earlier in the day.
Pirates: OF Ka’ai Tom (low back strain) began a rehab assignment with Indianapolis on Tuesday.
RHP Adam Wainwright (10-6, 3.48) starts for the Cardinals on Wednesday night against RHP Wil Crowe (3-6, 5.47).
Wainwright has won seven straight decisions against the Pirates since losing to them on opening day in 2016. Crowe has given up a run in either the first or second inning in 13 of his 16 starts this season.
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