|St. Louis (65-55) «||1||0||0||2||2||0||0||0||x||5||11||1|
Molina had three hits and two RBI, leading the Cardinals to a big 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
St. Louis bounced back from Friday night's 2-1 loss in the series opener and pulled within a game of Pittsburgh for the second NL wild-card spot. Jaime Garcia is expected to come off the disabled list to start Sunday's series finale against Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens.
Molina also scored a run after missing the previous three games with a sore back. The All-Star catcher hit a tiebreaking two-run double off Erik Bedard (7-13) in the fifth inning to give the Cardinals a 5-3 lead.
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"Not just his presence but his production," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "It's great to have Yadi back."
The Cardinals had scored just two runs in their previous two games. Batting sixth, Molina went 3 for 4.
"It feels so good," said Molina, who indicated his back was not bothering him after the game. "I was waiting for this moment the last three days. It's good to be back, it's good to get the win."
Pittsburgh loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth against Jason Motte but only managed one run on Andrew McCutchen's infield out. Garrett Jones struck out swinging and Josh Harrison bounced into a fielder's choice to end the game.
Motte fell behind 3-0 to Jones before coming back to get him. Jones took a healthy cut at the 3-0 pitch, which was fine with Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle.
"He's your cleanup hitter and arguably as hot as anyone we have on the team," Hurdle said.
"We're going to play the game to win it. We're not going to be afraid to make a mistake or play on our heels."
Barret Browning (1-2) pitched a scoreless inning for his first major-league win. Motte earned his 28th save in 33 chances after blowing his previous opportunity Thursday against Arizona.
Motte was not dwelling on the past when he loaded the bases Saturday.
"I don't really think about the other day," Motte said. "I was out there and I was thinking `I got to get this guy at the plate.' That's pretty much exactly what I was thinking."
Jordy Mercer went 2 for 4 with two RBI for the Pirates, who struck out 14 times.
Craig's second hit put runners on the corners with two down in the fifth. Bedard then walked David Freese before Molina came up with his opposite-field double to right to put St. Louis in front.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn allowed three runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
|Yadier Molina returns with a big game, collecting three hits and two RBI in a key battle against the Pirates. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Starling Marte, LF||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||.253|
|Yamaico Navarro, LF||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.167|
|Jordy Mercer, 2B-SS||4||1||2||2||0||0||1||.188|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||5||0||0||1||0||2||4||.356|
|Garrett Jones, 1B-RF||4||0||1||1||0||2||2||.283|
|Travis Snider, RF||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||.289|
|Jared Hughes, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Josh Harrison, PH-2B||2||0||1||0||0||0||2||.232|
|Pedro Alvarez, 3B||3||0||0||0||1||3||2||.236|
|Rod Barajas, C||3||0||0||0||1||2||2||.194|
|Clint Barmes, SS||3||1||1||0||0||2||3||.219|
|b- Michael McKenry, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.267|
|Juan Cruz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Erik Bedard, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||4||.114|
|Gaby Sanchez, 1B||2||1||2||0||0||0||0||.217|
|a-singled for Hughes in the 8th|
|b-flied out for Barmes in the 8th|
|2B - Jordy Mercer (4, Lynn), Gaby Sanchez (13, Mujica)|
|SF - Garrett Jones (5)|
|RBI - Jordy Mercer 2 (4), Andrew McCutchen (73), Garrett Jones (65)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jordy Mercer (1)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|DP - Alvarez-Mercer-G. Jones, Bedard-Barmes|
|Erik Bedard (L,7-13)||4.2||9||5||5||3||4||0||4.76|
|HBP - Jay (by Juan Cruz)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Erik Bedard 78-48, Jared Hughes 16-10, Juan Cruz 22-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Erik Bedard 3-5, Jared Hughes 5-1|
|Batters Faced - Erik Bedard 24, Jared Hughes 7, Juan Cruz 6|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Rafael Furcal, SS||5||2||2||0||0||0||3||.269|
|Matt Carpenter, RF-1B||4||0||1||1||0||0||1||.311|
|Matt Holliday, LF||4||0||1||0||0||2||2||.306|
|Allen Craig, 1B||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.305|
|Mitchell Boggs, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Daniel Descalso, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.230|
|David Freese, 3B||2||1||0||0||2||0||1||.300|
|Yadier Molina, C||4||1||3||2||0||0||0||.317|
|Shane Robinson, CF-RF||4||0||2||2||0||1||2||.257|
|Ryan Jackson, 2B||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.000|
|a- Carlos Beltran, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.278|
|Jason Motte, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Lance Lynn, P||2||0||0||0||0||2||1||.073|
|Barret Browning, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Trevor Rosenthal, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|b- Skip Schumaker, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.313|
|Edward Mujica, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Jon Jay, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.304|
|a-struck out for Jackson in the 8th|
|b-flied out for Rosenthal in the 6th|
|2B - Rafael Furcal (17, Bedard), Yadier Molina 2 (24, Bedard, Bedard), Shane Robinson (6, Bedard)|
|RBI - Matt Carpenter (31), Yadier Molina 2 (56), Shane Robinson 2 (14)|
|2-OUT RBI - Yadier Molina 2 (24)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|E - David Freese (10, Misplayed grounder)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Barret Browning (W,1-2)||1||0||0||0||0||2||0||4.00|
|Trevor Rosenthal (H,1)||0.2||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.86|
|Edward Mujica (H,19)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||3.66|
|Mitchell Boggs (H,23)||1||2||0||0||0||2||0||2.13|
|Jason Motte (S,28)||1||1||1||0||0||1||0||2.79|
|HBP - Marte (by Lance Lynn), Mercer (by Jason Motte)|
|WP - Barret Browning (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Lance Lynn 86-53, Barret Browning 11-7, Trevor Rosenthal 8-5, Edward Mujica 6-5, Mitchell Boggs 16-13, Jason Motte 22-16|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Lance Lynn 1-4, Edward Mujica 1-2, Jason Motte 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Lance Lynn 21, Barret Browning 3, Trevor Rosenthal 2, Edward Mujica 4, Mitchell Boggs 5, Jason Motte 6|
|Attendance - 40313|
|Game Time - 3:17|
|Temperature - 81|
|Umpires - Home - Jim Reynolds, First Base - James Hoye, Second Base - Jim Joyce, Third Base - Lance Barrett|