Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kolten Wong went up there hacking. Starting a rally wouldn't satisfy.
"I didn't want to bloop something in or anything like that," Wong said after he homered in the 14th inning and the St. Louis Cardinals beat Pittsburgh in extra innings for the third straight time, 3-2 on Sunday.
"I wanted to drive something and either score myself or get in scoring position," he said.
Starter Michael Wacha, who'd been three outs away from becoming the majors' second 5-0 pitcher, returned to the dugout just in time to watch the winner.
"Myself and all the other relievers that had already thrown, we were like, 'We've got to go out there and support these guys,'" Wacha said. "Sure enough, Wong comes through."
The Cardinals swept a three-game series all in extra innings for the first time in franchise history. They're the first team to do it since June 4-7, 1925, when the Cincinnati Reds beat the Boston Braves, according to STATS.
The Cardinals posted three extra-inning wins in a row for the first time since July 2006, when they twice beat Houston before the All-Star break and then won at Dodger Stadium when play resumed.
"Wow. I think that's all I've got," manager Mike Matheny said. "I love how they keep playing."
The NL Central leaders are a major league-best 18-6, matching the franchise's best 24-game start since 1900. They had the same record in 1941 and 1944.
"We're playing arguably the team that's playing the best baseball in the league," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "And we went with them for three straight days. We came up one run short each day."
Pedro Alvarez homered in the Pittsburgh 12th inning before the Cardinals tied it on a bases-loaded single by Peter Bourjos in the bottom half. St. Louis left the bases loaded in the 11th and again in the 12th.
The finale of a three-game series that totaled 35 innings lasted 4 hours and 28 minutes. The Cardinals scored seven runs, the Pirates four.
Wong hit his second homer with one out, sending a pitch from Radhames Liz (1-2) into the home bullpen in right. Both of his game-winning homers have come against Pittsburgh, the other on July 8, 2014 off Ernesto Frieri.
"It's pretty special, especially against the Pirates because they're in our division," Wong said. "I guess I'm lucky against them."
Rookie Miguel Socolovich (1-0) worked a perfect 14th to earn his first career victory.
After walking in four straight at-bats, Alvarez hit his fifth homer, connecting against rookie Sam Tuivailala.
Bourjos' infield hit against Liz ticked off the glove of diving third baseman Josh Harrison. He's 6 for 12 his last five games.
Jung Ho Kang's first homer came on the first pitch of the ninth from Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal. It's the first blown save in nine chances for Rosenthal and first homer allowed.
Pirates starter Vance Worley gave up a run on four hits in six innings. Wacha allowed five hits in 6 2-3 scoreless innings.
Matt Carpenter hit his fourth homer leading off the fourth. He was removed in a double switch after seven innings after experiencing light-headedness.
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen's glove popped off as he attempted to reach over the wall for Carpenter's fourth homer. The shot ended a run of 95 consecutive innings in 11 games by Pirates pitchers without allowing a longball.
McCutchen lost his mitt again just missing a diving catch on Jhonny Peralta's bloop single in the seventh.
Pirates: Pitcher Charlie Morton, rehabbing from offseason hip surgery, threw 93 pitches in extended spring training on Saturday.
Cardinals: Set-up man Jordan Walden was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right biceps inflammation.
Pirates: Jeff Locke (2-1, 4.76) didn't make it out of the fourth inning in his last game. On Tuesday, he'll oppose the Reds to open a six-game homestand.
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (3-0, 1.73) is among the league leaders in ERA and has won his last three starts, surrendering three runs in 19 innings.
Alvarez drew a career-high four walks the previous four at-bats before homering. He has 16 homers against St. Louis, topped only by 17 against Milwaukee among opponents.
Harrison was 0 for 7 with two strikeouts and only two balls hit to the outfield. Shortstop Jordy Mercer flubbed two popups that dropped in for gift singles, the first perhaps lost in the sun but the second after shadows had descended on Busch Stadium.