Bell's 3-run HR in 9th sends Pirates past Cardinals

PITTSBURGH -- Budding power hitter Josh Bell is having a strong rookie season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lots of firsts and improvement defensively.

But he found some eloquent words after his first career walk-off hit, a three-run homer in the ninth inning on Friday night for a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

"It's unlike any other experience. Like walking on a cloud, kind of like my first weekend up here. It was cool," Bell said of his 17th homer.

"The lights go off and come back on, you're rounding third and you see all your teammates at home. I haven't had that feeling since Double-A, and the stadium here is a little louder than that."

The long ball to left came off Seung-Hwan Oh (1-5) after Adam Frazier led off the ninth by stretching a hit to left into a double. An out later, Andrew McCutchen was intentionally walked.

Pittsburgh (43-47), fourth in the National League Central, won for the sixth time in seven games.

Bell, who was 2-for-3 with two walks and four RBIs, continued to impress manager Clint Hurdle.

"He did a lot of good things at the plate," Hurdle said. "We've talked about him being dangerous. We've talked about him learning at the plate as the season goes on, taking his at-bat.

"As soon as he hit it, he knew it was out. Fun to watch him grow. He's growing up right in front of our eyes."

Oh, who came on in the ninth, got the only out of the inning on a shallow fly ball by Josh Harrison. After the Cardinals decided to put McCutchen on, Bell hit a 1-2 pitch a few rows into the seats in left.

"It was too high. It was a missed pitch," Oh said through an interpreter.

Bell thought it was out, but he also expected it to be more of a monster.

"It didn't go as far as I thought it was going to go, but I hit it pretty good," he said.

Pittsburgh closer Felipe Rivero (4-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.

Neither starter got a decision after they left with the score tied at 2.

St. Louis sinker-baller Mike Leake gave up two runs and seven hits in five innings with five walks and three strikeouts. It was a decent rebound from his previous start when he gave up a season-high eight runs.

Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole got his pitch count up to 102 in six innings. He allowed four hits, one of them Jedd Gyorko's two-run homer in the first. Cole, who struck out four and walked none, then retired nine batters in a row and 16 of the 18 he faced after the homer.

It was Cole's fifth quality start in his past six starts.

"Just continue to stay aggressive," Cole said. "Got some quick outs here and there, which got us into the sixth, and just trusted the defense."

Cole needed 28 pitches to get out of the first inning, and one of those was a full-count, two-out slider that Gyorko pelted 408 feet to center for a 2-0 St. Louis lead. It also brought home Tommy Pham, who singled with one out.

"He had good stuff," Gyorko said of Cole. "He left a pitch out over. I put a good swing on it, and from there he didn't make too many mistakes from there on."

Pittsburgh climbed within 2-1 in the third. Cole led off with an infield single and two outs later scored on Bell's single to left.

In the fourth, Gregory Polanco led off with a double off the wall in center and moved to third on Francisco Cervelli's groundout. After Jordy Mercer walked, Cole had a chance to contribute offensively again.

Instead, Polanco got picked off third on a throw from catcher Yadier Molina to Gyorko.

"We try to save (that play) for big moments if we can," Gyorko said. "Getting that out there and getting Leake out of that inning was big."

Especially when the Pirates, who pounded out 12 hits, stranded 10 runners.

The Pirates tied it 2-2 in the fifth. Leake walked the bases loaded with two outs and Polanco drove in McCutchen with a single to right. Leake then struck out Cervelli to end the threat.

"He was about at his last hitter there," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Leake. "He ends up getting the strikeout to get us out of the (fifth) inning. There was a lot of damage that could have been done."

That didn't come until the ninth.

NOTES: Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle got ejected in the sixth inning by home plate umpire Jerry Layne when he argued against a timeout call that prevented a runner from advancing. ... St. Louis RF Stephen Piscotty left in the ninth inning after running to catch a shallow fly ball and grabbing at his right thigh. ... St. Louis OF Randal Grichuk (back strain) was placed on the 10-day DL. ... Cardinals OF Jose Martinez was recalled from Triple-A Memphis. ... 3B Jung Ho Kang is unlikely to join the Pirates this season, GM Neal Huntington told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kang does not have a work visa to leave his native South Korea after multiple DUIs. ... Pittsburgh altered its rotation from what was originally announced. RHP Jameson Taillon, a late scratch because of food poisoning, is starting Saturday instead of RHP Chad Kuhl. ... In an unusual game-day move, the Cardinals chartered to Pittsburgh on Friday morning. ... The cable rights-holder that carries Pirates games changed its name to AT&T Sportsnet.