Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

By Rob Rains

Fans will be packing Busch Stadium all weekend to honor retiring icons Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina in their last regular-season series at Busch Stadium.

The sold-out crowd on Friday night had one more moment to cheer.

Honored in a pre-game ceremony for his 700th  career home run, which came on the road a week ago, Pujols hit number 701 leading off the fourth inning to earn yet another curtain call in this memorable season.

It was the 22nd home run of the season for Pujols and his 14th since Aug. 14. The only player in the majors who has hit more in that time span is the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, with 15.

The home run tied the game at 1, and the Cardinals scored what turning out to be the winning run an inning later on an RBI single by Nolan Arenado.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The homer from Pujols was only the second hit for the Cardinals off Johan Oviedo, traded to the Pirates at the deadline for Jose Quintana … In the fifth, Brendan Donovan and Paul Goldschmidt singled, and Arenado followed with his 101st RBI of the season … Goldschmidt also had a single in the third, the only Cardinal with two hits as they managed just six in the game … In his other at-bats, Pujols grounded out, flied out and walked … Molina was hitless in three at-bats.

On the mound: Jack Flaherty allowed the one Pirates run, working six innings. He allowed four hits, walked two and hit a batter while recording six strikeouts … Flaherty had to dodge traffic much of the night, pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and stranding two runners in third before giving up the run in the fourth. Flaherty did retire the last seven hitters he faced … Andres Pallante and Giovanny Gallegos also had to pitch out of jams in the seventh and eighth= before Ryan Helsley closed out the win, pitching around a one-out walk in the ninth.

Key stat: Of Pujols’ 10 home runs since Aug. 20, seven have either tied the game or given the Cardinals the lead.

Worth noting: The Cardinals’ hope is that both Tyler O’Neill and Jordan Hicks will be healthy enough to be on their roster for the wild-card series but won’t know if that will happen for a few more days. O’Neill (hamstring) needs to be able to play before the end of the regular season next Wednesday for the Cardinals to feel comfortable putting him on the postseason roster. Hicks (neck spasms and arm fatigue) threw off a mound on Friday. “They still have a chance to be on it until I’m told it’s not possible,” said manager Oli Marmol … Marmol was non-committal about when he will decide who will pitch the opening game of that wild-card series next Friday.

Looking ahead: Jordan Montgomery will get the start on Saturday night in the second game of the series.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out Rob Rains, Editor.