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PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jung Ho Kang has gotten off to a fast start for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Kang went 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBIs to help the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 on Sunday.
With the game tied 3-3, Kang hit a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning that helped the Pirates take two of three from St. Louis. The Cardinals lost their first series of the season.
"It's very meaningful that we won against the Cardinals," Kang said. "I hope that we carry this on and all the players are on the same page moving forward."
Kang hit his second home run of the season in the first inning, a shot to left field off a 0-2 fastball left over the middle of the plate from St. Louis left-hander Tyler Lyons. Kang's home run gave Pittsburgh a 1-0 lead. Kang, who played in South Korea last season, is batting .333 in his rookie season in the majors.
"It was supposed to be in," Lyons said. "It started middle-in and ran to the middle so altogether from the beginning it wasn't the pitch I wanted to make."
The Pirates added a run in the fourth when Starling Marte reached on an infield single and advanced to third when Lyons' throw went wide of first base. Jordy Mercer hit a line drive that Matt Reynolds couldn't handle at third, allowing Marte to score for a 2-0 Pirates lead.
Jeff Locke was dominant through five shutout innings before Peter Bourjos singled and Kolten Wong hit a two-out, two-run home run to tie it at 2-2 in the sixth.
Pittsburgh retook the lead in the sixth when Andrew McCutchen led off with a double to right-center and scored on Gregory Polanco's sacrifice fly.
Lyons lasted five innings and gave up three runs and five hits. He walked one and struck out five.
The Cardinals tied the game in the seventh when Reynolds doubled with two outs and scored on Jason Heyward's RBI single.
But the Pirates responded again with Kang's single.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny's team didn't have quite enough to get over the hump and win.
"Just one of those days we had to try and get what we could," Matheny said. "Gave up a few, got 'em back, then just couldn't hold them in the end."
Locke left after 6 2-3 innings and gave up three runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out one as manager Clint Hurdle thought his starter had good command of his fastball.
"I moved the fastball well on both sides of the plate," Locke said. "But the changeup was probably the pitch to get guys out in front in fastball counts with guys looking to hit something hard and kind of getting fooled a little bit."
Jared Hughes (1-1) got the final out of the seventh for the victory.
Mitch Harris (1-1) gave up a run on a hit and walked two in the seventh.
Mark Melancon earned his seventh save with a scoreless ninth.
Kang is batting .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs and has a .429 average in his past 35 at-bats. Against a left-hander, manager Clint Hurdle moved Kang to second in the batting order and had faith in setting him up to drive in the go-ahead run.
"He's swinging the bat well," Hurdle said. "He's giving us good at-bats, he's shown the ability to drive in a run."
St. Louis: OF Jon Jay was out of the starting lineup with a jammed thumb suffered in Saturday night's game.
Pittsburgh: OF Starling Marte started after he was removed with dizziness Saturday. ... RHP Charlie Morton (hip) will throw a side session at Double-A Altoona on Monday before making his second rehab start Thursday for Triple-A Indianapolis.
St. Louis: The Cardinals are off Monday before they continue their six-game road trip in Cleveland. RHP Lance Lynn (1-3, 3.82 ERA) starts for St. Louis against Indians RHP Carlos Carrasco (4-2, 4.71 ERA).
Pittsburgh: The Pirates begin a seven-game road trip as they head across the state for four games in Philadelphia. RHP Gerrit Cole (4-1, 2.27 ERA) faces RHP Jerome Williams (2-2, 5.18 ERA) as the Pirates look to continue their winning ways against the Phillies. Pittsburgh is 14-7 against its interstate rival over the past three seasons.
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