Monday’s Game Report: Pirates 3, Cardinals 2

Monday’s Game Report: Pirates 3, Cardinals 2

By Rob Rains

Jose Quintana and Miles Mikolas showed they are ready for the postseason on Monday night. So did Albert Pujols.

The Cardinals used both Quintana and Mikolas for three innings in the game in Pittsburgh in their final appearances before getting starts in the best-of-three wild-card round.

Manager Oli Marmol has not announced the team’s rotation for that series, waiting to see who the Cardinals will be playing in the series that begins on Friday night at Busch Stadium.

Quintana did not allow a run and Mikolas gave up one run in a game the Pirates rallied to win on four consecutive walks, three by Giovanny Gallegos, in the ninth inning.

The Cardinals’ runs came on a home run from Pujols, his third in the last four games and 703rd of his career. The two RBIs moved him past Babe Ruth into second place for the most RBIs in MLB history with 2,216, trailing only Hank Aaron.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals had only two hits before Paul Goldschmidt led off the sixth with a single and Pujols followed with his 24th home run of the season … It was the 35th home run of Pujols’ career in Pittsburgh, the most he has hit in any stadium where he was exclusively on the visiting team … The homer was one of seven hits for the Cardinals, who were 0-of-9 with runners in scoring position … Paul DeJong got the start again at shortstop and was 0-of-4, striking out three times.

On the mound: Quintana allowed a leadoff single in the first but then retired seven of the other eight hitters he faced, getting a double play after a walk in the third … The run off Mikolas came when he allowed two doubles in the sixth … Steven Matz worked a 1-2-3 seventh but Andre Pallante gave up a leadoff homer in the eight and Gallegos imploded in the ninth, walking the bases loaded. JoJo Romero relieved and walked in the winning run on four pitches.

Key stat: The 35 home runs, and 99 RBIs, for Pujols at PNC Park have come in 101 career games in which he also has a .375 average. Pujols’ first homer there came in his first game at the park in 2001.

Worth noting: The Cardinals announced before the game that Gallegos had agreed to a two-year contract for 2023 and 2024 that includes an option for 2025 … Mikolas made his first relief appearance since July 31, 2013, when he was with San Diego, ending a streak of 115 consecutive starts … Pujols has hit 18 of his 24 homers since the All-Star break, tied for the second most in the majors behind the Yankees’ Aaron Judge … Going into Sunday the Cardinals had been 16-1 in games when Pujols hit a home run. They are now 16-3 … Tyler O’Neill took several at-bats in a simulated game on Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh. He is expected to do the same on Tuesday and Wednesday as the Cardinals try to determine if his sore hamstring is healthy enough for him to be on the roster for the wild-card round.

Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson is expected to start Tuesday night’s game with Jack Flaherty available to pitch in a relief role to get him ready for the postseason.

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.