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Decision to stick with Maness backfires as Cardinals fall to Pirates 5-2

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. - St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny didn't mind the odds when he decided to let reliever Seth Maness face Pittsburgh pinch-hitter Ike Davis with two on in the eighth inning of a tie game on Tuesday night.

"I like Seth's chances right there," Matheny said. "We'll take our chances making a good pitch."

With a bad pitch, not so much.

Davis took a belt-high changeup from Maness and sent it into the last row of seats in right-centre for a tiebreaking, three-run homer that lifted the Pirates to a 5-2 win.

"We got into a good count, had a couple real nice pitches and left one up in the middle," Matheny said. "That's not going to turn out well."

Davis took exception with a called strike from Maness (5-3) that made it 1-2. He watched a ball in the dirt before sinking his bat into an 84 mph offspeed pitch that turned into his ninth homer of the season.

"I cleared my head when I got in the box and tried to have a good at bat the rest of the time," Davis said. "He kind of left it a little higher than he wanted and I got a piece of it."

The Cardinals were overwhelmed for six innings by Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole but tied it in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Jon Jay and an RBI single from Randal Grichuk off reliever Tony Watson (9-1).

St. Louis was trying for a repeat of a 3-2 win on Tuesday night, when the Cardinals went silent against starter Francisco Liriano only to tag reliever Jared Hughes. Not this time. Pittsburgh closer Mark Melancon allowed one runner in the ninth but otherwise had little trouble in picking up his 23rd save.

The Pirates won after star centre fielder Andrew McCutchen left in the fifth inning because of discomfort in his left ribs. Recently on the disabled list because of a rib problem, he ran into the wall earlier in the game.

"Today caught up to him in a couple of different ways," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of the reigning NL MVP. "Tonight got to be a point where we didn't think we needed to push any farther than he did."

Josh Harrison homered off in the fifth off St. Louis starter Lance Lynn, who gave up two runs on six innings, walking three and striking out three. Lynn wasn't quite crisp while searching for his 15th win but kept Pittsburgh at bay when he needed to. The Pirates left eight runners on base against Lynn.

"I never felt like I was in trouble," Lynn said. "I felt like I was in control of what I was doing and that's a plus. When it comes down to it you've got to make pitches."

Lynn was solid but Cole was better.

The 23-year-old overwhelmed the Cardinals for long stretches in his second start since returning from the disabled list with right lat soreness. St. Louis didn't get a hit until a two-out double just inside the first base bag by Kolten Wong in the sixth. Cole responded by fanning Matt Holliday for his ninth strikeout of the game.

Hurdle decided to send Cole back out for the seventh with a 2-0 lead even though he had thrown 102 pitches. Trouble soon followed.

Matt Adams led off with a double and Jhonny Peralta followed with a single. Watson, an All-Star who has slipped a bit over the second half of the season, came on but couldn't quell the rally.

Adams scored on a sacrifice fly by Jay, and Grichuk — called up earlier in the day after outfielder Shane Robinson was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury — slapped a single up the middle to tie the game. Watson recovered to get out of the jam and retired the side in the eighth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: St. Louis put Robinson on the 15-day disabled list with a partially dislocated left shoulder. He hurt himself while trying to steal second late in a 3-2 win over the Pirates on Monday. He went back to St. Louis for an MRI on Tuesday. Matheny said there is no timetable for Robinson's return. Grichuk hit 25 home runs in Triple-A this season.

Pirates: Pedro Alvarez exited in the seventh inning with left foot discomfort. Making his sixth start at first base following serious throwing issues while playing at third base, Alvarez went 0 for 3 and handled every defensive chance cleanly before giving way to Gaby Sanchez. Alvarez will be re-evaluated on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Adam Wainwright (15-8, 2.52 ERA) goes for his major league-leading 16th win on Wednesday. Wainwright's nine road victories are tied for second in the majors and his 1.74 road ERA is tops among all starters.

Pirates: Jeff Locke (5-3, 3.69 ERA) is 3-1 with a 3.78 ERA in eight starts at PNC Park this season. The left-hander allowed two runs in six innings in an 8-3 victory over Milwaukee last Friday.

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