Grichuk homers in return, helps Cardinals top Pirates 8-4
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals welcomed back Randal Grichuk and Yadier Molina, and the duo made a big difference in their return.
Grichuk homered in his first game since being promoted from the minors, Molina had three hits and the Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-4 on Sunday night.
Grichuk, who was sent to the minors on May 29 after struggling with consistency, had two hits — including his solo homer in the sixth inning — and scored twice.
“It’s nice to have him back,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Grichuk.
Molina, who had missed the previous two games after being hit by a foul tip on the knee, had three hits, scored three runs and drove in a run.
“He was swinging the bat great today, that’s for sure,” Matheny said of Molina.
The Cardinals, who had lost three straight, scored four runs in the seventh to break open a tie game. Molina’s RBI single off Juan Nicasio (1-4) made it 5-4 and rookie Paul DeJong’s two-run single gave St. Louis an 8-4 lead.
“We weren’t able to make pitches,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “We weren’t able to execute the fastball for the most part or the slider. Just too many pitches when you get up to 30 pitches and the two walks painted him in a bad corner.”
Trevor Rosenthal (2-3) struck out the only batter he faced in the seventh to earn the win in relief for the Cardinals. Starter Mike Leake went six innings and allowed four runs — three earned — and six hits.
St. Louis took a 2-0 lead in the second on Greg Garcia’s two-run single, but the Pirates went up 3-2 on the third on Adam Frazier’s two-run triple and Josh Harrison’s sacrifice fly.
Pittsburgh added another run in the fourth on Elias Diaz’s sacrifice fly that scored Andrew McCutchen.
The Cardinals tied the game in the sixth on Grichuk’s homer off Pirates starter Chad Kuhl and Jedd Gyorko’s pinch-hit ground-rule RBI double.
Grichuk’s 478-foot homer was the longest by a Cardinals player in the new Busch Stadium and the second-longest in stadium history. Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton crushed a 489-foot shot on June 15.
“That was a bomb,” Matheny said. “He smoked that ball.”
Kuhl gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked one.
The Cardinals placed OF Dexter Fowler (right heel spur) and LHP Kevin Siegrist (cervical spine sprain) on the disabled list and optioned OF Chad Huffman to Triple-A Memphis. St. Louis recalled Grichuk and RHP Mike Mayers and purchased the contract of 1B Luke Voit from Triple-A.
MAJOR LEAGUE DEBUT
Luke Voit, who grew up in the St. Louis suburb of Wildwood, Missouri, pinch hit for the Cardinals in the seventh inning for his first major league plate appearance. He was hit in the back by a 96 mph fastball from Jhan Marinez.
“I didn’t even feel it, honestly,” Voit said. “I had so much adrenaline running through me. That’s why I was smiling my whole way to first base.”
Voit is from the same high school — Lafayette — as former National League MVP Ryan Howard and former World Series MVP David Freese. Freese, who was playing third base for the Pirates on Sunday night, sent Voit a congratulatory note before the game.
The crowd of 43,719 gave Voit a standing ovation before his at-bat and chanted “LUUUUKE” while he was at the plate.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an initial ovation for a first at-bat like that,” Matheny said. “That was impressive. I asked him if he left 10,000 tickets tonight.”
Pirates: After an off day on Monday, RHP Trevor Williams (3-3, 5.09) will make his 10th start of the season on Tuesday night against visiting Tampa Bay.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (3-3, 4.76) will face the visiting Reds in a makeup game on Monday afternoon. He is 7-1 with a 2.95 ERA in 13 career starts (15 appearances) against Cincinnati.
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