Cards' gritty effort, Wong's HR not enough vs. Bucs

Cards' gritty effort, Wong's HR not enough vs. Bucs

PITTSBURGH -- Jung Ho Kang, who earlier hit his first home run at PNC Park, singled to break a tie in the seventh inning Sunday, sending the Pirates to a 4-3 victory over St. Louis and the Cardinals to their first series loss of the season.

The Redbirds twice fought back, tying it at 2 on Kolten Wong's two-run homer off Jeff Locke in the sixth and at 3 on Jason Heyward's RBI single in the seventh.

However, Kang put the Bucs back on top when his single off Mitch Harris scored Steve Lombardozzi. The Korean infielder was moved up to No. 2 in the Pirates' lineup -- the first time he has batted higher than sixth -- and has gone 11-for-21 in his last five starts. More >

Kang got the scoring started by pulling an 0-2 fastball from lefty Tyler Lyons into the left-field corner seats for his second homer of the season.

"Very rarely at this level mistakes are made on 0-2," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He got a ball out over the plate and put a beautiful swing on it."

Now who's dizzy? After being removed from last night's game due to "extreme dizziness," Starling Marte ran the Cardinals dizzy with a fourth-inning tour around the bases that began with a 10-foot dribbler. Marte raced all the way to third on Lyons' wild throw past first on the infield single, and he scored on another infield hit by Jordy Mercer.

"I thought my only chance was to get there and let it rip fast," Lyons said. "Obviously, not the throw I wanted, but I thought it was kind of do-or-die there." More >

Mercer's RBI single

Aloha means goodbye: Swinging a pink bat in honor of his mother, Keala, who died of cancer in December 2013, Wong lined a pitch from Locke over the right-field wall for a game-tying, two-run homer in the sixth. It was Wong's fourth career blast off a lefty. He has now hit six of his career 16 home runs against the Pirates, including three within the last eight days.

"I wanted to go with something that represented the Mother's Day theme, so I decided for the pink bat," Wong said. "I told myself that this day is for my mom. No matter what I do, I'm going to have fun, play the game and just enjoy it." More >

Walk the plank: As they often are, a leadoff walk was the unraveling for Harris in the seventh. After opening his career with seven scoreless appearance, Harris was tagged for the go-ahead run after walking Lombardozzi and then allowing an RBI single to Kang. Harris, who had walked just three in his first 7 2/3 Major League innings, walked a pair in his inning of relief on Sunday as he sustained his first loss.

"Harris has been very good for us this year, and he's been attacking the strike zone," Matheny said. "It just hasn't been something we've seen an issue with. And I predict he's going to continue to be good for us."

"We needed to win a series, that was my focus going in. That's how I work best and how I feel our team works best -- not by looking at the games behind." -- Hurdle, whose Pirates could have been 11 games out at the end of this series, but drew within seven by winning the last two games

Kang's RBI single

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday, who drew a sixth-inning walk on Sunday, has reached base safely in all 29 games he's played this year. That ties him with Enos Slaughter (1938) for the third-longest on-base streak to start a season in franchise history. The club record is 42 games, set by Rogers Hornsby in 1924 and matched by Albert Pujols in 2008.

With Vance Worley's double Saturday night, Pirates pitchers have equalled their extra-base output of all last season -- the shortcoming that prompted Hurdle to make pitchers' hitting a team priority for 2015.

Cardinals: After playing 20 games over the last 20 days, the Cardinals get a much-needed day off on Monday. That will be followed by the start of a three-game series in Cleveland on Tuesday, when Lance Lynn (1-3, 3.82 ERA) gets the ball against Carlos Carrasco. The Cardinals are hopeful that Matt Carpenter will rejoin them for the series after missing the trip to Pittsburgh due to fatigue. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. CT.

Pirates: Gerrit Cole will be out to start a new winning streak when he faces the Phillies on Monday in the 7:05 p.m. ET opener of a four-game series in Citizens Bank Park. Cole took his first loss in nine decisions in his last start.

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Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB and like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.