Yadier Molina tripled in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning when right fielder Gregory Polanco missed an attempted shoe-top catch and Michael Wacha got his 14th win to tie for the major league high as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday night.
The anticipated marquee pitching matchup between Wacha (14-4) and Gerrit Cole (14-6) didn't live up to expectations, as both were gone by the seventh inning. Seattle's Felix Hernandez also has 14 wins.
St. Louis gave up an easy run, too, when center fielder Randal Grichuk badly misplayed an attempted diving catch on Andrew McCutchen's RBI triple that tied it at 2 in the fifth. Grichuk landed early and bounced as the ball rolled past him to the wall.
The Cardinals lead the second-place Pirates by seven games and will attempt to complete a three-game sweep on Thursday night. St. Louis improved to a season-best 33 games above .500 at 73-40.
McCutchen hit his 18th homer and Polanco had three hits for the second straight game for the Pirates, who are 0-5 in St. Louis and 5-2 against the Cardinals at home. The first four losses at Busch Stadium were all by one run.
Wacha scattered nine hits and three walks in six innings, allowing two runs. Pittsburgh left the bases loaded in the fourth and stranded two in the fifth and sixth.
Cole gave up three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and is 0-2 in three starts this month while totaling 16 1/3 innings. A throwing error by second baseman Neil Walker on a potential double-play ball by Jason Heyward in the third handcuffed first baseman Pedro Alvarez on a short hop and led to the Cardinals' first two runs.
HEAD TO HEAD
Wacha is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in three starts against Pittsburgh. Cole has lost three straight starts on the road after winning the previous three and is 0-2 with a 3.80 ERA against the Cardinals in four starts this season.
The slow-footed Molina has two triples this season, both of them key hits. He cleared the bases for the go-ahead hit at Chicago against the White Sox on July 22. He stole his second base in three attempts after the Cardinals successfully challenged in the eighth.
Polanco had six straight hits, tying the franchise best this season, followed by an intentional walk in the sixth before flying out to open the ninth.
Pirates: Starling Marte was removed before the bottom of the third because of discomfort in his left hand from fouling off a ball in the first.
Cardinals: GM John Mozeliak is hopeful Matt Adams (quad surgery) can go on a rehab assignment before the end of the minor league season. Adams has been cleared to swing.
Pirates: Francisco Liriano (7-6, 3.13) has a 2.53 ERA in his last 13 starts but is just 6-2 during that stretch.
Cardinals: Lance Lynn (9-6, 2.76) has been dominant at home with six wins and a 2.15 ERA.
Link to box score: St. Louis (73-40) 4, Pittsburgh (65-46) 2