Tim Benz: 5 things to love about Pirates’ win to take series vs. Cardinals | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz

There was plenty to like about Sunday’s 10-6 Pirates win over the Cardinals. It was a third-straight victory. It secured a series win over a division rival.

The team came out strong early, came back after losing the lead then added on once they got it back.

And Josh Bell was phenomenal.

The first baseman was 4 for 4 with a walk. He homered, doubled, had five RBIs and scored three runs.

The highlights didn’t stop there, though.

That’s what the lineup is supposed to look like: Obviously, Bell was the story. But there was more to like than just him.

Starling Marte got two hits from the leadoff spot. Gregory Polanco got two hits and scored three times hitting in front of Bell. The right fielder’s batting average is up to .317.

Even Francisco Cervelli got three hits. It was just his third multihit game of the season as he looks to recapture last year’s form when he had career highs in home runs, RBIs and OPS.

They got a win in a Brault-Kingham start: When both Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer went down with injuries, it became clear that the Pirates were going to have to slug their way to an occasional win when Steven Brault or Nick Kingham started.

In Brault’s first start, the club beat Texas, 5-4, even though the lefty lasted just four innings. This time, it was only 3 2/3 innings, and the Pirates bats came through with 10 runs and 14 hits to compensate.

Let’s see if they can turn a similar trick Monday in Arizona. Kingham pitches against the Diamondbacks. The Pirates lost his first start of the season, 9-6, on Wednesday against Texas.

The bullpen came through: All six of the Cardinals’ runs were charged to Brault as he failed to finish the fourth inning.

Four Pirates relievers combined for shutout ball in the final 5 1/3 innings to give the offense enough cushion to catch up, get a lead and extend it for a win.

Montana DuRapau, Chris Stratton, Richard Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano combined to allow just three hits, one walk and no runs the rest of the way.

The defense didn’t hurt: While Jose Martinez was a hazard in right field for the Cardinals, the Pirates were sound with the gloves.

That was necessary so as not to give the Cardinals too many extra chances at the plate.

In particular, Bryan Reynolds flashed. The rookie outfielder made one sliding catch on his knees and another stellar leap against the wall to rob Martinez in the ninth inning.

Colin Moran turned in a sharp play at third base, too.

The bench helped: After Bell’s homer in the seventh tied the game at 6-6, bench players were instrumental in extending the rally.

With two outs and Cervelli on first base, Melky Cabrera came up as a pinch hitter and drew a walk. Adam Frazier followed as a pinch hitter as well. And he stroked a double to give the Pirates a lead they didn’t relinquish.

That was good to see for Frazier as he kept his bat hot. He went hitless Saturday after getting at least one hit in his previous seven games.

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