ST. LOUIS — Both teams all but cleared their benches trying to end it. One of the St. Louis Cardinals’ substitutes finally came through.
Adron Chambers singled home the winning run in the 14th inning for his first RBI of the season, and the Cardinals outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates and cut into their NL Central lead with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night.
“Oh man, that was amazing,” Chambers said. “If any one of these guys got that, they’d be jumping for joy just like I am inside.”
Sam Freeman (1-0) allowed a walk in a scoreless 14th for the Cardinals, who saddled the Pirates with their fourth straight loss and pulled within two games of them with a win in the 4-hour, 55-minute game.
“We had a lot of guys step up,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “That was a big, big win. It was one of those ones you just felt you had to win somehow.”
Pittsburgh had four hits the first time through the order against Adam Wainwright and led 3-0 after two innings on homers by Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer. They had six hits the rest of the way and couldn’t quite recover from left fielder Starling Marte’s dropped fly ball in the ninth.
“He’s probably not in a good place right now,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “There’s some hard lessons learned up here from time to time.”
Hurdle didn’t want to put it all on Marte.
“We got nicked for a run. We had to play five more after that,” Hurdle said. “We threw everything out there, they threw everything out there.
“We let one probably get away from us.”
Both teams had chances in extra innings before the Cardinals, who had dropped four of five, cashed in.
Jon Jay singled off Jared Hughes (2-3) with one out in the 14th with his fourth hit. Jay stole second and then raced home and barely eluded the tag on Marte’s relay to the plate.
Hughes was the Pirates’ seventh pitcher. The Cardinals used six.
“If you were to know the outcome of the game, you’d prefer to save your arms in the bullpen,” Pirates starter Charlie Morton said. “They’ve been so good. You just hope to not put too much of a load on them.”
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the 13th before Seth Maness got Josh Harrison to ground into a double play.
Pittsburgh got two key outs in extra innings by forcing Maness to bat. Right fielder Josh Wilson was moved into a five-man infield before participating in a rare 6-9-3 double play to end the 11th.
Jeanmar Gomez finished his third scoreless inning by striking out Maness with the bases loaded in the 13th.
Maness was inserted into the cleanup spot following a double switch, replacing Matt Holliday, who slipped returning from a secondary lead and injured an ankle. X-rays were negative.
“I obviously need a little help up there,” Maness said. “I’ll be a little more prepared next time.”
The Cardinals forced extra innings and gave Mark Melancon a blown save, aided by Marte, who dropped Daniel Descalso’s routine fly ball for a two-base error with one out in the ninth. Descalso scored the tying run on Allen Craig’s single.
Wainwright was the first National League pitcher to 13 wins but is 0-2 in four starts since then. He has worked seven innings in all of them although he needed 122 pitches against the Pirates.
He allowed three runs and five hits with six strikeouts and a season-high three walks.
Jay had three hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have been offensively challenged while going 2-5 on a 10-game homestand entering the Pirates series.
David Freese is 2 for 13 with the bases loaded after shattering his bat grounding into a double play that got the Cardinals on the board in the sixth. Morton threw one pitch behind Freese not long after getting a visit from pitching coach Ray Searage.
The Pirates’ defense was perfectly placed behind reliever Bryan Morris for pinch-hitter Matt Adams’ lineout to second baseman Neil Walker in shallow right field with two on to end the eighth.
Wainwright got three extra days’ rest after lacking a put-away pitch in recent efforts. He still had to fight for outs, needing 33 pitches to get out of the first, although the Pirates had just two hits off him after Mercer’s homer in the second.
Andrew Lambo was 0-3 with a pair of groundouts and a strikeout in his major league debut for the Pirates. He got the start after Jose Tabata was scratched with flu-like symptoms. Lambo has hit 31 homers at Double-A and Triple-A this year, tied for the most in the minors.
Morton allowed two runs in six innings against a team that has punished him. He entered 2-6 with a 6.30 ERA against St. Louis and has lost five consecutive decisions.
Notes: Cardinals C Yadier Molina took part in most field activities for the second day and plans on playing Thursday, the first day he is eligible to come off the DL from a right knee injury. St. Louis was 5-7 the first 12 games without Molina, who told reporters it has been tough watching. … Wednesday’s starters Francisco Liriano (12-5, 2.83) and St. Louis rookie Shelby Miller (11-7, 2.89) are both among the NL ERA leaders. Miller lasted just two pitches in his last outing when he was drilled on his pitching elbow on a liner by the Dodgers’ Carl Crawford, but escaped with a bruise. … Marte was hit by a pitch for the 20th time this season, when he led off the fifth. Before the game, Hurdle referred to Marte as a “Pinata.”