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  W: T. Lyons (4-0)   L: G. Kontos (0-6)   S: J. Nicasio (4)
4:15 PM PT5:15 PM MT6:15 PM CT7:15 PM ET19:15 ET23:15 GMT7:15 4:15 PM MST6:15 PM EST6:45 PM VEN3:15 UAE (+1)6:15 PM CT, September 9, 2017
Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri  Attendance: 44,378

DeJong helps hot Cardinals post victory over Pirates

(Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images)

(TSX / STATS) -- ST. LOUIS -- Paul DeJong has experienced a lot of firsts in his rookie season with the St. Louis 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 tie game against the Pittsburgh 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 Milwaukee Brewers, three 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 Colorado Rockies.

"At this point in the year it's just about winning as opposed to being selfish individually," DeJong said. "I want to do my best every time out there but I'm not going to fret about the stats right now."

DeJong had the day off Friday after playing 32 consecutive games. He also was coming off a .190 average on the Cardinals' day road trip and admitted he used the break as a chance to refresh mentally, which he believes helped him in the key at-bat in the eighth inning against George Kontos (0-6).

"I knew Kontos was going to throw slider, slider, slider and I wanted to stay back enough," DeJong said. "A couple of feet difference and it could have been a foul ball. It was a big hit."

DeJong's double into the left-field corner was not the only big hit of the night for the Cardinals. After they fell behind 2-0 in the second, Yadier Molina tied the game with a two-run homer, his 16th of the year, in the bottom of the inning.

Then in the seventh, after the Pirates had retaken the lead on an inside-the-park homer from Adam Frazier, Matt Carpenter tied it again with his two-out homer, his 19th of the year.

"In that situation you're looking at hitting an extra base hit," Carpenter said. "I can't say I was trying to hit a homer, but I'm not looking to bunt. I'm not looking to walk or hit a single. I've got to try to find a way to get on second or hit a homer."

The runs in the seventh and eighth set up Juan Nicasio to earn his second save in as many nights for the Cardinals, pitching around a leadoff single in the ninth.

Frazier was hoping his home run would be enough for the Pirates to get the win, but instead they suffered their fourth consecutive loss.

"Off the bat I thought it was either gone or caught," Frazier said. "(Dexter) Fowler's a pretty good outfielder. It just got over his glove I guess. I didn't see anybody around and he was lying there so I took off."

The Cardinals do not know how badly Fowler was injured on the play. He had to leave the game after falling awkwardly as he attempted to make the catch at the wall. An initial medical report described Fowler's injury as a left knee contusion and an X-ray came back clean, but he is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Sunday.

Even though his team has fallen out of the race, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle believes playing in games such as this can help his young players, like Frazier, in the future.

"You would rather be on the other side of it, playing them," Hurdle said. "However you get an opportunity to come to Busch Stadium and play before a packed house against a good ball club. Everybody that's out there is engaged.

"These young guys are getting opportunities. It's the biggest crowds they've played in front of all year maybe in their career. They are meaningful games, they are meaningful innings and they are meaningful at-bats."

Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez struck out eight in six innings, reaching the 200 mark for the season on his final out in the sixth. He is only the seventh pitcher in franchise history to reach 200 strikeouts in a season and at age 25 is the youngest to do it since Steve Carlton in 1969.

NOTES: Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright, on the disabled list since Aug. 18 because of an elbow impingement, threw on flat ground for the first time Saturday. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday or Tuesday and is still optimistic he will be able to pitch again before the end of the season. ... OF Dexter Fowler was back in the Cardinals' lineup Saturday night but was dropped to fifth in the batting order, the first time in his career he has started a game in that spot in the order. ... The Pirates said LHP Steven Brault will remain in the rotation and start Monday at Milwaukee, bumping RHP Gerrit Cole's turn back to Tuesday.

Updated September 9, 2017

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