ST. LOUIS — Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run homer and drove in three runs, leading the St. Louis Cardinals over Pittsburgh 3-1 on Tuesday in a doubleheader opener that extended the Pirates’ losing streak to eight.
Goldschmidt hit his 14th home run, a go-ahead, two-run drive in the third inning off JT Brubaker (0-7), and boosted the lead to 3-0 with an RBI grounder in the fourth. Goldschmidt is hitting .383 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs since May 12, raising his average to an NL-leading .338 with 51 RBIs, second in the NL to the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso.
Yadier Molina had 11 putouts on 10 strikeouts and a foul popup, and with 14,870 passed Iván Rodríguez (14,864) for most among catchers in major league history. The 39-year-old, a 10-time All-Star, was given a standing ovation with the record-setter when he caught Ke’Bryan Hayes’ sixth-inning popup.
Pittsburgh had four errors, three by shortstop Diego Castillo — including bad throws on groundouts on consecutive pitches. He had just two errors coming in.
Matthew Liberatore (2-1) allowed three hits in five scoreless innings, striking out five and walking two in his fourth big league starts. The 22-year-old left-hander, pulled after 79 pitches, has pitched shutout ball in both his wins, the first against Milwaukee on May 28.
St. Louis won for the fourth time in five games. The Pirates are on their longest skid since eight straight from last Aug. 4-12.
Giovanny Gallegos pitched a one-hit ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances, finishing a seven-hitter.
St. Louis backed its pitchers with a pair of double plays and with 58 have the fourth-highest total in the major leagues.
Brubaker (0-7) remained winless in 13 starts this year. He gave up three runs — two earned — and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Yu Chang homered off Génesis Cabrera in the seventh.
Miles Mikolas (4-4, 2.93) was to start the second game for the Cardinals and Bryse Wilson (0-3, 7.53) for the Pirates.
Goldschmidt homered on a 418-foot drive to center, his 50th at Busch Stadium.
Castillo made two errors in the fourth. He made a nonchalant throw to first that bounced on Molina’s grounder, then sailed a high throw to first on Edmundo Sosa’s grounder.
Brubaker shifted to a windup with an 3-2 count on Nolan Gorman, and Molina took off for third. Brubaker stepped off and threw to second in a pickoff attempt, and after umpires conferred, second base umpire Dan Iassogna called a balk, prompting Pirates manager Derek Shelton to come onto the field to argue.
Gorman walked to load the bases. and Goldschmidt followed with a three-hopper up the middle. Gorman beat Castillo’s backhand toss to second and kept on running to get into a rundown that allowed Molina to score. After throws to catcher Jason Delay, Hayes at third, Castillo and Delay, Sosa was out at the plate.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW
Delay, a 27-year-old taken from Vanderbilt on the fourth round of the 2017 amateur draft, made his big league debut and went 0 for 2 with a walk. He became the sixth catcher to play for the Pirates this season, the most since 2016.
Pittsburgh’s Canaan Smith-Njigba pinch hit in the ninth and doubled in his major league debut. The 23-year-old was drafted by the Yankees on the fourth round in 2017 and acquired in the January 2021 trade that sent pitcher Jameson Taillon to New York. His younger brother, Jaxon, was MVP of this year’s Rose Bowl as a wide receive for Ohio State.
Brendan Donovan, who led off for the Cardinals, has appeared in all nine lineup spots this season, has played all four infield positions and right and left field.
THE MACHINE KEEPS RUNNING
Albert Pujols played his 1,340th game at first base, tying Jim Bottomley for most in Cardinals history. It was also his 1,739th game with the Cardinals, passing Curt Flood for seventh-most in franchise history.
Pirates: RHP Duane Underwood Jr. was placed on COVID-19 injured list on Monday.
Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder) will make his season debut in Wednesday night’s series finale rather than make a third minor league injury rehabiliation start. He is expected to have a limit of about 60 pitches. RHP Roansy Contreras (1-1-, 2.57) starts for Pittsburgh.
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