Pittsburgh, PA – Pedro Alvarez once again provided the offense and four Pirates pitchers combined for a second straight shutout of the Cardinals in a 5-0 victory at PNC Park.
Alvarez hit two homers in Tuesday's 9-0 win and his three-run blast in the rubber match of this three-game set helped Pittsburgh win its first season series against its NL Central rival since 2008.
Wandy Rodriguez (9-13) picked up his first victory as a starter since the Pirates acquired him in a trade with the Astros last month. The left-hander gave up just three hits and three walks over six innings.
The Pirates pulled within one game of St. Louis for the second wild card spot in the National League.
"We're going to battle. These guys trust each other and play hard for one another," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Joe Kelly (4-6), who replaced the inconsistent Lance Lynn in the rotation, surrendered five runs on eight hits and three walks over five innings to take the loss.
Doubles by Travis Snider and Garrett Jones put the Pirates on the board in the first, and Alvarez extended the lead with one swing of the bat in the third.
Snider and Jones walked in front of Alvarez, who stepped in with two outs and crushed one off the last row of seats in the right-field bleachers for his 26th home run of the season and seventh against the Cardinals.
Alvarez added a two-out double in the fifth and scored on Josh Harrison's base hit up the middle for a 5-0 cushion.
Pittsburgh's bullpen took care of the rest behind Rodriguez. Tony Watson shook off a leadoff single in the seventh, Jason Grilli retired the heart of St. Louis' order in the eighth, and Joel Hanrahan came on in the ninth to complete the shutout.
The Cardinals had only one runner reach past first base.
"It's frustrating," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the offensive struggles. "It's feast or famine and it's hard to figure out how to get it going."
The Pirates won the season series, 8-7 ... Alvarez hit .397 (23-for-58) with 23 RBI and 13 runs scored in 15 games against St. Louis this year ... Rodriguez had been 0-7 in eight starts since July 7. He picked up a victory against the Cardinals as a reliever on Aug. 19 ... Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina sat out with left shoulder, upper back and neck strains stemming from a home plate collision with Harrison on Tuesday ... The Cardinals head right to Washington, DC for a four-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals, while the Pirates have a day off before beginning a three-game series in Milwaukee.