Game Report: Cardinals 4, Pirates 3

By Rob Rains

Paul DeJong has experienced a lot of firsts in his rookie season with the Cardinals. Playing meaningful games in September is one of the newest.

A year ago, DeJong was finishing up the Double A season and heading home at this point in the season. He prefers to be where he is now- in a playoff battle in the major leagues.

“This is a new challenge; it’s a lot more fun up here,” DeJong said.

DeJong was in the middle of another key game for the Cardinals on Saturday night, delivering a leadoff double in the eighth inning of a 3-3 game against the Pirates. He went to third on a groundout by Jose Martinez and scored on another grounder by Randal Grichuk that gave the Cardinals the 4-3 victory, their eighth win in their last 10 games.

The win kept the Cardinals tied with the Brewers, 3 games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. They also are tied with the Brewers in the wild-card race as both teams try to chase down the Rockies.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals had two big hits before the double by DeJong. Yadier Molina hit his 16th homer of the year to tie the game 2-2 in the second, and Matt Carpenter hit his 19th homer of the year in the seventh, tying the game at 3 … The Cardinals only other hit in the game was a single by Molina in the sixth inning … Jose Martinez was 0-of-3, ending his 10-game hitting streak.

On the mound:
Carlos Martinez struck out eight in six innings, allowing him to reach the 200-mark for the season. He is the seventh pitcher in franchise history and at 25 is the youngest to do it since Steve Carlton in 1969 … The runs in the seventh and eighth set up Juan Nicasio to earn his second save in as many nights as he was able to pitch around a leadoff single in the ninth.

Worth noting: The Cardinals will know more on Sunday about the injury suffered by Dexter Fowler trying to catch what turned out to be an inside-the-park homer by Adam Frazier in the seventh. It was initially diagnosed as a left knee contusion and an X-ray came back clean, but he will undergo an MRI on Sunday … Adam Wainwright threw off flat gound before the game and should throw a bullpen on either Monday or Tuesday. He is still optimistic he can return before the end of the season.

Looking ahead
: Michael Wacha will get the start in the final game of the series at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday. Ivan Nova will start for the Pirates.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains