ST. LOUIS - Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has been patient with rookie infielder Jordy Mercer and his steady approach may finally be paying off.
Mercer had two hits and drove in two runs in Pittsburgh's 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. The two RBIs doubled his total for the season.
"He showed up today," Hurdle said. "That's how you get experience and that's how you build confidence."
Mercer's nice day had a painful ending when he was hit on the right wrist by a Jason Motte pitch in the ninth inning. Postgame X-rays did not appear to show a break, and Mercer was considering himself lucky.
"As soon as it hit, you hope it's not bad," said Mercer, who raised his average to .188 in 24 games. "I didn't really know what to think at the time because it hurt so bad. I might have caught a break there."
Mercer stayed in and went to first to load the bases with no outs. But the Pirates only managed one run on Andrew McCutchen's grounder. Garrett Jones struck out swinging and Josh Harrison bounced into a fielder's choice to end the game.
Barret Browning (1-2) pitched a scoreless inning for his first major league win. Motte earned his 28th save in 33 chances after blowing his previous opportunity Thursday against Arizona.
Hurdle said his team went down swinging.
"You got to love the energy," Hurdle said. "I love the experience our guys are getting. When you win you feel excited. When you lose you feel the sting of defeat. It gets you back out there ready to go tomorrow."
St. Louis bounced back from Friday night's 2-1 loss in the series opener and pulled within a game of Pittsburgh for the second NL wild-card spot. Jaime Garcia is expected to come off the disabled list to start the series finale against Pirates right-hander Jeff Karstens.
Mercer would love to play again Sunday if his wrist is OK. He is hoping to build on Saturday's performance.
"Any time I can help the team out, be it offense, defense or whatever, it feels good," Mercer said. "That's what I want to do, come in and try to provide a spark somehow."
Yadier Molina gave the Cardinals a lift with three hits and two RBIs in his return to the lineup. The All-Star catcher had missed the previous three games with a sore back.
Molina hit a tiebreaking two-run double off Erik Bedard (7-13) in the fifth inning to give the Cardinals a 5-3 lead.
Shane Robinson also had a two-run double for St. Louis, which finished with 11 hits. Rafael Furcal went 2 for 5 and scored twice, and Allen Craig had two singles.
Craig's second hit put runners on the corners with two down in the fifth. Bedard then walked David Freese before Molina came up with his opposite-field double to right to put St. Louis in front.
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn allowed three runs and four hits in 4 1-3 innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
Mercer singled in Clint Barmes in the third and doubled in Starling Marte in the fifth, cutting St. Louis' lead to 3-2. Mercer eventually scored the tying run on Jones' sacrifice fly to right.
NOTES: Garcia is scheduled for his first start since June 5 after he was sidelined by a left shoulder strain. ... Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday snapped an 0-for-14 slide with a third-inning single. ... Edward Mujica pitched a scoreless seventh and has yet to allow a run in eight appearances with the Cardinals. ... Marte left in the sixth inning with discomfort in his right side and was being evaluated.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.