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PITTSBURGH (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals stumbled against the Pirates for the second straight day, allowing home runs to Starling Marte and rookie Jordan Luplow in a stinging 4-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

St. Louis began the day 1½ games behind Colorado for the NL’s second wild card.

With the score 1-1, Pat Bostick singled against Seung Hwan Oh (1-6) leading off the fifth and Marte followed with his seventh home run. Luplow went deep an inning later off Brett Cecil.

Jameson Taillon (8-7) allowed one run and four hits in five innings. Five pitchers combined for hitless relief, with Felipe Rivero striking out two in a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 21 chances.

Matt Carpenter hit his 22nd home run for St. Louis.

Pittsburgh has faded from contention but put together its first winning streak in three weeks by pouncing on the Cardinals’ patched-together rotation. A day after chasing Lance Lynn in the first inning of an 11-6 victory, Pittsburgh pounced when the Cardinals went to the bullpen.

Still in the playoff mix thanks to a September surge, the Cardinals opted to give John Gant his first major league start. Gant worked three innings, allowing a sacrifice fly by Jose Osuna, while walking two and giving up three hits.

Taillon, finishing a season that included a month-long absence due to testicular cancer, battled through five innings in his final home start of the year. He needed 95 pitches to get 15 outs.

St. Louis loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh before George Kontos got Pham to hit into a forceout.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: 1B Jose Martinez is dealing with a sprained left thumb and a timetable for his return is uncertain. Martinez had an MRI in St. Louis on Saturday that revealed no serious damage. Martinez flew to St. Louis after leaving Friday night’s win against the Pirates in the sixth inning due to pain in the thumb.

Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer was held out of the lineup after exiting Saturday night’s victory with soreness in his left knee.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Luke Weaver (7-1, 2.05 ERA) starts Monday against the Chicago Cubs and LHP Jon Lester (11-8, 4.56) in the opener of a seven-game homestand.

Pirates: RHP Trevor Williams (6-9, 4.18) starts Tuesday versus Baltimore and RHP Kevin Gausman (11-10, 4.61).

(Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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