PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Pirates walked off the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night. Literally.
The Pirates strung together four walks to begin the ninth inning, the last to Oneil Cruz that forced home the winning run in the Pirates’ 3-2 victory at PNC Park in the opener of a three-game series.
For a second straight game, the Pirates (61-99) staved off a second consecutive 100-loss season. They have two games remaining with the National League Central champion Cardinals to finish the season.
“I think it’s the point that our guys are still playing hard,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “That’s the most important thing. We had good at-bats throughout the game. We have to continue to play hard and I’m proud of our group that we’ve continued to do so.”
With the score tied 2-2 in the ninth, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Miguel Andujar and Rodolfo Castro all drew walks form Giovanny Gallegos (3-6) to load the bases with no outs.
The Cardinals brought in left-hander JoJo Romero to face Cruz, who walked on four pitches.
The Pirates fell behind 2-0 in the sixth inning when Albert Pujols continued to make history with a two-run home off Mitch Keller.
However, the Pirates rallied to tie the game. Bryan Reynolds hit an RBI double in the sixth inning and rookie outfielder Jack Suwinski hit his 19th home run of the season in the eighth.
Keller allowed two runs and six hits in five-plus innings while striking out five and walking two.
Yohan Ramirez (4-1) pitched a scoreless ninth inning and earned the win for Pittsburgh.
Even on his way out the door, Pujols continues to be the Pirates’ nemesis. The home run was the 703rd of his storied career and he is one of four players to reach that mark.
Pujols also moved into sole possession of second place on the Major League Baseball all-time RBI list with 2,216, breaking a tie with Babe Ruth. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.
In 101 games at PNC Park, Pujols has hit 35 home runs, his most at any visiting ballpark. Seven of 24 homers overall this season have come against the Pirates.
Pujols intends to retire at the end of the season.
The Cardinals will begin postseason play Friday.
The series continues at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday. JT Brubaker (3-11, 4.58) will come off the injured list to start for the Pirates and face Dakota Hudson (8-7, 4.07). Brubaker has been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.