PITTSBURGH— Oneil Cruz’s big game at the plate backed up a strong start from Roansy Contreras as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 8-2 at PNC Park on Friday night.
Contreras (5-4) held the Cardinals scoreless through the first five innings, before running into trouble in the sixth.
The Cardinals (81-58) found the scoreboard when Corey Dickerson rebounded in picking a defenseman after back-to-back hits to start the frame.
After walking Tyler O’Neill, manager Derek Shelton went to the bullpen, bringing in Manny Bañuelos. The southpaw bounced Albert Pujols in a late-inning double play.
In total, Contreras went 5.1 innings, allowed one run on four hits, walked two and struck out a batter. In his last three outings, Contreras has a 1.54 ERA.
“I thought the curveball was probably the best we’ve seen, at least for the first five innings,” Shelton said. “He did a really good job just performing, kept himself out of trouble and did a good job.”
Cruz hit a two-run triple to the notch at left center in the fifth inning to give the Pirates (51-86) a 3-0 lead. After doubling up earlier in the game, Cruz extended his hitting streak to six games, tying a career high.
Bryan Reynolds notched his 50th RBI of the season as he followed Cruz’s triple with an RBI single down the middle. It was one of two hits of the game for Reynolds, who also doubled.
Michael Chavis gave the Bucs a pair of insurance runs in the eighth with a two-run triple to left center. Cal Mitchell added another run for the Bucs when he called the triple with an RBI single, his third hit of the game.
Cruz’s big night continued in the eighth inning when he fielded a 117.7 mph single into right field, leading the Pirates’ eighth inning of the game.
“I think it’s just swinging in the right places,” Shelton said of Cruz. “When he hits the ball, he hits the ball hard all the time.”
Ben Gamel gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the second inning after leading the frame with a solo home run down the middle.
Tommy Edman cut the Bucs’ lead to two in the seventh when he curled a double into the shallow right center, tackling Lars Nootbaar.
Ke’Bryan Hayes singled in his first two at bats to give him his first multi-hit game since Aug. 24, while every Pirate starter had at least one hit.
Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas (11-11) struggled, allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings.
Chase De Jong extended his scoreless innings streak to 19 after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings.
During the game, the Pirates wore Pittsburgh Crawford jerseys to honor the historic Negro League team.
“Every time we’re able to highlight Negro League history, it’s made even more special in Pittsburgh because of what the city of Pittsburgh means to the Negro League all around,” manager Derek Shelton said. “It’s one of my favorite nights of the year.”
The Cardinals joined the Pirates in honoring the Negro Leagues by donning the St. Louis Stars jerseys.
On Saturday night, the Pirates will go for their first series win since sweeping the Brewers in early August. JT Brubaker (3-11, 4.35 ERA) will pitch for the Pirates. Jack Flaherty (0-1, 4.15 ERA) will be on the mound for St. Louis.
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