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Nolan Arenado and Iván Herrera back Sonny Gray in Cardinals' 4-2 win over Pirates

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nolan Arenado and Iván Herrera each had three hits, Sonny Gray pitched seven strong innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-2 on Wednesday night.

Arenado scored a run and drove in one while Herrera also scored a run. Brendan Donovan added two hits and an RBI.

“If I stay locked in on both sides of the ball, I feel like I can help this team win a lot of games," Arenado said. "That’s all I’m focused on.”

Gray (8-4) gave up one run and four hits while striking out nine and walking just one. He had lost his previous two starts.

“It was time to put up or shut up,” Gray said. “I had a mentality shift throughout the week. I want to continue down this road. I write in my little book here, pitch to win the game and not worry about anything else. When you do that, good things tend to happen.”

In the first inning, Gray walked the leadoff batter and gave up a double before striking out three.

“That was fun to watch,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “To get out that was pretty gritty. You could see the momentum after that. He was taking care of business.”

Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said his team missed an opportunity there in the first against Gray.

“We saw him out of the zone to the first two hitters and then after that, you see why Sonny Gray's an ace to staff, ” Shelton said. “He has the ability to execute. Overall, after the first two hitters, he was extremely sharp.”

Ryan Helsley gave up a leadoff single in the ninth before finishing up for his major league-leading 22nd save in 23 chances.

Bailey Falter (3-4) gave up three runs and eight hits in four innings to lose his second straight start.

“I'm struggling right now a little bit,” Falter said. “I need to get back on the right track here pretty soon. I've got to keep going, honestly. You can hang your head down. You've got to roll with the punches sometimes.”

Arenado hit a sinking line drive to left that Bryan Reynolds dove for but missed in the third inning. It bounced past him and rolled to the wall. That allowed Paul Goldschmidt, who had singled with two outs, to score from first base.

The Cardinals added two runs in the fourth to extend their lead to 3-0. After singles by Herrera, who stole third, and Brendan Donovan, Dylan Carlson hit a shot to third base that Ke’Bryan Hayes knocked down as Herrera scored.

“I'm hitting the ball pretty good right now,” Herrera said. “There's always room for improvement. I've been trying to hit the ball harder.”

Michael Siani beat out a bunt to load the bases, and Donovan scored on a fielder’s choice before Falter got out of the inning with a double play.

Pittsburgh scored a run in the fifth on a double by Nick Gonzales and a one-out single by Michael Taylor.

Donovan's two-out single in the bottom of the inning against reliever Carmen Mlodzinski scored Arenado, who led off the inning with a single.

Henry Davis led off the eighth with a home run to center off Andrew Kittredge for his first of the season to pull Pittsburgh to 4-2.

“It's very encouraging to hit one off Kittredge, a guy who's got very good stuff,” Shelton said. “He's tough. Maybe now that he's got the first homer, there's a sigh of relief.”

TRAINERS ROOM

Pirates: LHP Ryan Borucki (left triceps inflammation) and LHP Marco Gonzales (left forearm muscle strain) each threw 20-pitch bullpens before the game. Borucki made four appearances out of the bullpen this season before he landed on the IL. Gonzales posted a 2.65 ERA in three starts before he was sidelined.

Cardinals: C Willson Conteras (left forearm fracture) has progressed. He has started hitting soft toss and he caught a bullpen session from RHP Nick Robertson. ... Keynan Middleton (right forearm flexor) has undergone season-ending surgery to repair his forearm.

UP NEXT

Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller (8-3, 3.16) struck out eight batters in six innings while earning the win in Pittsburgh's 3-0 victory against Minnesota last Friday.

Cardinals:RHP Lance Lynn (2-3, 3.58) last faced the Pirates at Busch Stadium on June 24, 2017, in the Cardinals' 7-4 loss. It will be his 25th appearance against Pittsburgh, his most against any opponent.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

Warren Mayes, The Associated Press