ST. LOUIS -- Francisco Liriano stood bent over on the mound, hands on his knees, a trainer in attendance. Things looked bleak for the Pirates.
They had lost four games in a row, their starting catcher and closer went on the disabled list before the game and they hadn't reached base through the first three innings Saturday against St. Louis Cardinals starter Tyler Lyons.
Shortly thereafter, good news from the trainer's room and good hitting on the field turned their fortunes, at least temporarily.
Liriano ended up suffering only from dizziness and the Pirates scored four runs in the fourth to beat the Cardinals, 6-1, at Busch Stadium. Five Pirates relievers controlled the Cardinals for seven innings, and Jose Tabata went 3 for 4 with an RBI and a nice defensive play.
"Regardless of what's happened, and we've taken on a lot in the past 24 hours, but you've got to keep pushing," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Liriano got a nosebleed before his at-bat in the top of the third. He went out to the mound for the bottom half of the inning and issued a leadoff walk to Lyons. He fell behind Matt Carpenter 3-0, and Hurdle and assistant athletic trainer Ben Potenziano visited the mound.
"I just felt dizzy, weak and dizzy," Liriano said. "I don't know, I just feel sick."
Liriano said he received two IVs and was feeling better after the game. He said he and some members of his family have had issues with nosebleeds in the past as well.
When Hurdle and the trainer left the dugout, that was the cue for Stolmy Pimentel and the relievers to get loose. Pimentel entered the game and threw one ball, completing the walk to Carpenter that was charged to Liriano. He got Jhonny Peralta to fly out and struck out Matt Holliday.
Matt Adams hit a ball to right-center field that Neil Walker, playing in a shift, dived for and stopped. But he did not have a play, and the hit loaded the bases for Yadier Molina.
"I was just trying to get ahead on that guy, you know because I know he's a good hitter," said Pimentel, who improved to 2-0 with the win. "I was just trying to be down in the strike zone."
Molina worked the count full and fouled off three 3-2 pitches before striking out to end the inning.
"Pimentel pitched as big an inning as we've had pitched for us all year in the third inning under that situation," Hurdle said.
In the fifth, Pimentel walked two consecutive batters before Holliday hit an RBI double to left, cutting the score to 4-1. Pimentel struck out Adams, but Hurdle summoned Jared Hughes to face Molina after Molina had seen nine pitches in his previous battle with Pimentel.
"And, plus the kid, I felt, with the two walks to start the inning, there was some fatigue coming in," Hurdle said.
"I wanted a different look and a fresh arm."
Molina flied out to left on the first pitch and stranded two runners in scoring position.
Justin Wilson allowed a one-out double to Peralta in the seventh. Holliday lined a ball to the warning track in right, but Tabata made a running catch over his shoulder.
"I must not remember the play in Cincinnati," joked Tabata, who ran full-tilt into the wall at Great American Ball Park two weeks ago and had to leave the game.
A passed ball sent Peralta to third. Adams smoked a line drive up the middle, but shortstop Jordy Mercer, shifted to his left for the left handed-hitting first baseman, caught it to end the threat.
For three innings, Lyons was perfect, retiring the first nine Pirates on 26 pitches, 21 strikes. Only one batter, Liriano, hit the ball out of the infield.
Lyons' start U-turned in the fourth. He granted the Pirates their first baserunner on a leadoff walk to Starling Marte, then their first hit when he allowed a Josh Harrison single. He almost had Andrew McCutchen struck out looking on a fastball low in the zone, but it was called a ball.
McCutchen drove in a run on the next pitch, a single to left. Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run double into the gap in right-center and later scored on Tabata's single.
Tony Sanchez, who rejoined the team before the game, added some insurance with a two-run single in the ninth.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 26, 2014 7:29 PM