The Cardinals are the major leagues’ best team at hitting with men in scoring position. The Pittsburgh Pirates exactly 99 points lower than the Cardinals’ .328 mark are the third worst in the majors at this craft. And Friday night at Busch Stadium it showed especially in the early innings.
Pittsburgh nursing a 1½-game lead in the National League Central Division went nothing for four in the first two innings with men in scoring position as the Pirates had Cardinals starter Joe Kelly in position for a knockdown.
Kelly rope-a-doped his way out of both spots stranding five and then the Cardinals struck for a triple and three doubles in succession in the third to spike a two-run lead to a five-run edge.
In six scrambling innings Kelly would leave 10 Pirates on base and after he left the game the Cardinals exploded for nine straight hits good for seven runs in the seventh as they coasted — and then lurched — to a 12-8 win that sliced the Pirates’ lead over them to a half-game and creat...