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Bucs’ bats silent

PITTSBURGH — Yadier Molina hit a two-run homer and Jack Flaherty struck out 11 as the St. Louis Cardinals kept their hold on a postseason spot with a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Molina’s home run to the bleachers in left field came in the seventh inning off Derek Holland and extended St. Louis’ winning streak to a season-high four games. The Cardinals had been shut out by Joe Musgrove over the first six innings.

Flaherty (4-2) allowed only one run and two hits in six innings while walking two. It was his ninth career double-digit strikeout game.

Flaherty had been tagged for a career-worst nine runs in three innings in his previous start Tuesday at Milwaukee. He said he made some slight changes to his throwing mechanics between starts.

“It’s a game of continuous adjustments and there was obviously a lot to improve on after the last one,” Flaherty said. “I had a good week of work of getting together with guys and seeing what adjustments we could make.”

The Cardinals (26-24) hold a one-game lead on Cincinnati (27-27) and Milwaukee (26-26) for second place in the NL Central with one week left in the regular season. The top two finishers in each division gain berths in the expanded postseason during this pandemic-affected season.

Musgrove also had 11 strikeouts – a career high — in six innings but remained winless in seven starts this season. He gave up three hits and one walk.

That came a day after Pirates rookie Mitch Keller pitched six shutout innings.

“He had really good stuff,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said of Musgrove.

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