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Wil Crowe Gives Up Three-Run Double, Pirates Lose to Cardinals 7-5

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PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Wil Crowe battled the National League’s leading hitter through an exhausting plate appearance. Ultimately, battling wasn’t enough as Nolan Arenado’s three-run double in the top of the ninth inning gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 7-5 victory on Saturday night at PNC Park.

With the score tied at 4-4, two outs and runners on second and third in the ninth, Paul Goldschmidt stepped to the plate. Crowe (5-9) got ahead of Goldschmidt in the count 0-2, but the first baseman eventually worked a walk to load the bases for Arenado.

Arenado unloaded the bases by pulling a three-run double to left field, enable the Cardinals (82-58) to maintain and eight-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central.

“Both of them put together professional ABs all the time,” Crowe said of Goldschmidt and Arenado. They never give up ABs, doesn’t matter if they’re up 10, down 10. Especially at the end there, they’re grinding and putting together great ABs. They’ve both played for a long time and make a lot of money. It’s tough but it’s why we play the game. You don’t play the game to get guys out you should get out, you play to get the best guys out and I didn’t get it done today.”

The Pirates (51-87) lost for third time in their last four games and have dropped seven of their last nine games. They were also officially eliminated from postseason contention.

The Pirates got one run back in the bottom of the ninth on Bryan Reynolds’ single, but Ryan Helsley still recorded 15th save. Giovanny Gallegos (3-5) pitched a perfect eighth for the win.

Oneil Cruz had given the Pirates a 4-3 lead by leading off the seventh inning with his 14th home run of the season. However, the Cardinals tied it in the eighth on Albert Pujols’ two-out RBI single off Robert Stephenson.

That capped a big night for Pujols as he went 3 for 4 and hit his 696th career home run, tying Alex Rodriguez for fourth place on MLB’s all-time list. The historic homer came in the sixth inning off JT Brubaker and knotted the score at 3-3.

The Pirates broke to an early lead against Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty.

Rodolfo Castro hit a solo home run in the first inning, his seventh of the season. Rookie Jack Suwinski then connected on a two-run shot in the second inning, his 15th, to increase the Pirates’ lead to 3-0.

Brubaker allowed a solo homer to Brendan Donovan in the fifth before Pujols tied it an inning later. Brubaker gave up three runs and six hits in six innings with three strikeouts and two walks while not factoring in the decision.

“I know it’s a historic home run, but it still sucks,” Brubaker said. “I should have walked off that mound giving our team the lead and I didn’t do it.”

It was another good night for Cruz as the rookie shortstop went 2 for 4 with a home run and walk while running his hitting streak to a season-high seven games.

Saturday was Cruz’s 13th straight game batting leadoff. In that span, he is hitting .360 (18 for 50) with three doubles, three triples, four home runs and 13 RBIs.

Cruz has lifted his batting average from .198 to .231 while batting at the top of the order. The left-handed hitting Cruz connected off left-handed reliever JoJo Romero, giving him three homers off southpaws this season.

In seven games since Sept. 3, Cruz has seven extra-base hits. He is the first Pirates player 23 or younger to record seven extra-base hits in a seven-game span since Pedro Alvarez had eighth from Sept. 22-28, 2010.

Suwinski went 3 for 4.

Yet another rookie, Cal Mitchell, went 2 for 3 with two doubles and a walk. He is 9 for 22 (.391) since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on Sept. 1 when the MLB roster limit expanded from 26 to 28.

The three-game series concludes at 1:35 p.m. Sunday with Mitch Keller (5-10, 4.22) pitching for the Pirates against former teammate Jose Quintana (5-6, 3.41).

Keller pitched six shutout innings to beat the New York Mets on Tuesday. The lefty Quintana is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA in seven starts for the Cardinals since being acquired Aug. 1 from the Pirates in a trade.

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