ST. LOUIS — Pittsburgh Pirates super-utilityman John Jaso usually has one chance to make an impression in a game. On Friday night, he made the most of a rare second chance.
Josh Bell and Jaso homered as the Pittsburgh Pirates broke their Busch Stadium hex with a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jaso, who entered as part of a double switch in the eighth inning, drove a 3-2 pitch from Seung Hwan Oh (1-4) over the wall in right-center to break a 3-3 tie in the ninth as the Pirates broke a seven-game losing streak in St. Louis.
The eventual game-winning homer came one pitch after Jaso checked his swing on a possible strike three, but third base umpire Alan Porter ruled Jaso’s bat did not break the plane of the plate.
“I definitely held up on that swing,” Jaso said. “I think it was just an intense situation so everybody was jumping around, including the crowd and everything, but, no, I didn’t go.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny thought the pitch itself was strike three.
“As I saw it with the naked eye it didn’t necessarily look like it, but what I’m hearing is that PitchTrax showed it for a strike, but it’s a strike when they call it a strike,” Matheny said.
Four of Jaso’s five home runs have come in the seventh inning or later and four broke ties.
“I try and keep everything exactly the same, that way there’s no ups and downs,” Jaso said.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said that consistency has made Jaso into one of baseball’s best pinch hitters.
“A lot of people get caught up in the hair,” Hurdle said referring to Jaso’s hair style. “There’s a baseball player in there. He’s a free spirit, but he’s a very controlled free spirit as far as working well with the team.”
Jameson Taillon threw 104 pitches in six innings, both highs since coming back from testicular cancer surgery on June 12. Only one of the four hits the Pirates righty allowed left the infield.
“I can be a little better about pounding the zone early in counts,” Taillon said. “When I’m efficient that’s where I have success just going middle down, power sink.”
Felipe Rivero (3-1) pitched the Pirates out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth. Rivero worked around a ninth-inning walk to secure the win.
Bell’s homer gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. Bell’s 14 home runs are the second-most by a Pirates rookie before the All-Star break since Ralph Kiner’s 15 in 1946.
David Freese walked and scored to tie it 2-2 in the fourth. Freese advanced to third on a throwing error by second baseman Paul DeJong, the seventh by the Cardinals in their last three games, which have led to seven unearned runs.
Freese’s two-out RBI single off Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth tied the game 3-3. Freese has hit safely in 13 of 14 games against his former team.
Adam Wainwright got through seven innings for the third time this season and the first time since May 27. Only one of the two runs Wainwright allowed was earned after he had allowed 18 runs in his previous 5 1/3 innings.
Jose Martinez’s two-run homer, his second in three games, gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second.
DeJong’s solo home run gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead in the seventh. It was DeJong’s fourth homer in his last seven games.
Matt Carpenter made a diving stop in the first and Tommy Pham made a diving catch in the second for the Cardinals, each saving would-be singles.
Gregory Polanco made a diving catch to start a 9-3 double play for the Pirates in the sixth.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli is on the seven-day concussion DL for the second time this month.
Cardinals: OF Dexter Fowler (quadriceps) missed his second straight game. … C Yadier Molina was a late scratch after taking a foul tip off his knee on Thursday.
Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole (5-6, 4.28 ERA) has pitched at least six innings while allowing two earned runs or less in seven straight starts. He is 5-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 11 career starts against St. Louis.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (5-4, 3.33 ERA) has not allowed a run to Pittsburgh in his last 12 innings, including seven shutout innings on April 17. He is 4-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven starts against NL Central opponents this season.