Pirates outlast Cardinals 6-3 in 19 innings

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The Pirates and Cardinals had already split a pair of one-run games Friday and Saturday, but they were just setting the table for Sunday’s marathon, a 19-inning affair won by Pittsburgh 6-3.

Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead homer off Barret Browning in the top of the 19th to break the tie, and Andrew McCutchen later added a two-run single that seemed to settle the matter once and for all.

The Pirates also took the lead in the 17th, when Garrett Jones collected an infield single with the bases loaded, but the Cardinals were able to come back and re-tie the game on a Tony Cruz sac fly.

Wandy Rodriguez, who was expected to start Monday, pitched scoreless 18th and 19th innings for the victory. He had been 0-3 in four starts since being acquired by the Pirates. It was his first relief appearance since 2006.

The game was the longest played so far in 2012. 2011 featured a pair of 19-inning games, including one in which the Pirates lost to the Braves. It was the Cardinals’ longest game since they lost to the Mets 2-1 in 20 innings on April 17, 2010.

The Pirates improved to 67-54 with the victory, pushing them two games ahead of the Cardinals in the NL Central. They’re one game ahead of the Giants for the second wild card.