ST. LOUIS — Felipe Rivero thought he had strike three. Not quite.
Rivero was walking toward the Pittsburgh dugout when the pitch to Jedd Gyorko was called a ball. Three pitches later, Gyorko launched a solo home run in the eighth inning that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals over the Pirates 4-3 on Saturday.
“I think he had strike three and sometimes they don’t get called,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “I think that was the situation that happened.”
Rivero (1-6) said the call by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez didn’t affect his composure.
“That’s something you can’t control,” Rivero said. “You’ve got to focus and keep throwing strikes.”
The Cardinals pushed the NL wild-card race to the final day of the regular season.
Jung Ho Kang’s three-run homer in the first off Michael Wacha was his sixth home run against the Cardinals this season. Kang’s eight career homers and 21 RBIs against St. Louis are his most against any team in the majors.
“He swung the bat very well against St. Louis. Some of the games he’s hit two,” Hurdle said. “We could have used another one today.”
Pirates starter Chad Kuhl struck out five and gave up two runs in five-plus innings. The rookie right-hander was able to slow down his pace to work out of a couple of jams in the first and second inning.
“He went into the four corners defense just holding the ball, and then was making quality pitches, which I do think was disrupting hitters’ timing,” Hurdle said. “We haven’t seen that out of him and I know they haven’t seen that out of him.”
Gyorko became the first Cardinals player to hit 30 homers in a season since Carlos Beltran in 2012, with 23 of those coming after the All-Star break.
“Jedd’s been so impressive,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “I mean 30, that’s without even being in there every single day.”
The Cardinals tied it with a three-run sixth, highlighted by Matt Holliday’s RBI pinch-hit single. Holliday homered on Friday night after the Cardinals said they wouldn’t pick up his $17 million option.
Kevin Siegrist (6-3) pitched a scoreless eighth. Seung Hwan Oh stranded runners at second and third for his 19th save in 22 opportunities.
“We had to have extra ordinary effort from our bullpen today and that was just impressive from beginning to end and all the way through,” Matheny said. “Just overall a great effort from the entire team.”
JUST MAKING SURE
Cardinals SS Aledmys Diaz hit a ball in the bottom of the first to the same part of the left field wall where Yadier Molina’s game-winning double went on Thursday. Originally called a ground-rule double, umpire crew chief Larry Vanover called for a review, which confirmed the call.
Pirates: Starling Marte (back) was out of the lineup and isn’t expected to play in the season finale on Sunday.
Pirates: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (3-7, 5.00 ERA) is one strikeout away from No. 900 in his career. He is 3-7 with a 6.02 ERA in 23 career appearances (12 starts) against St. Louis.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (13-9, 4.67 ERA) has failed to make it through six innings in four of his last five starts, but he earned the win on four of them. He is 13-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 32 career appearances against Pittsburgh.