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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.

 

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.

 

Matt Carpenter singled in the St. Louis seventh off Holland (1-3) and Molina hit his fourth homer of the year.

A night earlier, Molina left the game after being on the left wrist by a pitch. The nine-time All-Star was also hit in nearly the same spot Tuesday by a swing while behind the plate.

 

Pittsburgh scored its run in the fourth inning. Bryan Reynolds hit a leadoff double, moved to third on Adam Frazier's sacrifice bunt and scored on Colin Moran's sacrifice fly.

 

By pitching Sunday, Andrew Miller's $12 million option for next season vested. He is the final guaranteed season of the two-year, $25 million contract he signed I free agency.

 

The Cardinals open a three-game series against the Royals at Kansas City on Monday night. Adam Wainwright (5-1, 2.87 ERA) faces rookie RHP Carlos Hernandez (0-0, 3.86 ERA).

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