Pittsburgh, PA – A day after being called back up to the big leagues, Alex Presley was the unlikely hero and the Pittsburgh Pirates moved back into first place in the NL Central.
Presley's walk-off single in the 11th inning was the difference, as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-1, in the opener of a doubleheader at PNC Park.
Russell Martin and pinch-hitter Gaby Sanchez each worked one-out walks off Kevin Siegrist (0-1). Presley hit a full-count fastball that deflected off Siegrist's glove and went past shortstop Pete Kozma to score Martin.
"It's good to see a packed house, they know its important and their behind us," said Pirates starter A.J. Burnett about the fans. "In extra innings their in every pitch, every play and we feed off that."
Vin Mazzaro (6-2) pitched a hitless 11th inning to earn the win for the Pirates, who took a half-game lead into the nightcap.
Matt Holliday went 2-for-5 and drove in the lone run for the Cardinals, who have lost a season-high five straight.
The Cardinals had two chances late in the game to put a run or two on the board but failed each time.
In the ninth, they had Tony Cruz 90 feet away but Kozma's pop-out kept him there.
The next frame, St. Louis got Bryan Morris into a jam with runners on the corners, but he got Holliday to ground into his NL leading 24th double play to end the inning.
"We've had a lot of good things happen with runners in scoring position this year," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "We hit some hard hit balls today, it just didn't work out.
Andrew McCutchen robbed Carlos Beltran in the first of an extra-base hit and saved two runs from scoring with a spectacular diving catch on a line drive. There were two men one and one out when he made the grab, he then doubled off Holliday at first.
McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez hit back-to-back two-out doubles in the home half to take an early 1-0 lead.
Kozma led off the third with a double to the left-center field gap. Burnett let Lance Lynn's bunt roll by him, thinking an infielder was charging and then walked Matt Carpenter to load the bases with no outs. The Cardinals could only manage to tie the game on a one-out groundout to third from Holliday.
John Jay struck out to start the sixth inning but hustled to second when the ball bounced off his back ankle and was ruled a wild pitch. The disputed call didn't influence the game with a heated Burnett keeping Jay at second with three straight outs.
Josh Harrison had a pinch-hit base hit to left to start the bottom of the eighth. Starling Marte laid down a sac bunt to put Harrison into scoring position. Jay made a leaping grab over his right shoulder to rob Neil Walker of a go-ahead hit. Randy Choate retired Alvarez with two men on to keep the game knotted.
Prior to the game, St. Louis recalled pitchers Michael Blazek, Keith Butler and Tyler Lyons from Triple-A Memphis and optioned pitcher Fernando Salas to Memphis ... Burnett allowed one run on three hits with nine strikeouts over seven frames, while Lynn went six innings and yielded one run on three hits ... The last time the Pirates and Cardinals played a doubleheader was Aug. 20, 2004 in St. Louis ... Alvarez extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 1-for-4 ... Cardinals center fielder Jay snapped his 245-game errorless streak with a miscue in the fifth ...St. Louis is 1-5 in extra innings, while Pittsburgh is 8-5 ... St. Louis traded pitcher Marc Rzepczynski to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for infielder Juan Herrera.