Left-hander Steven Brault made his Major League debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night, and helped lead his team to a 5-2 road victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Steven Brault Strikes Out Five In MLB Debut To Lead Pirates To 5-2 Win Over Cardinals

Brault, 24, allowed just two runs (one earned) in four innings. He was pulled in part because his pitch count was already up to 82 after four frames. However, he struck out five batters and left with the game tied 2-2.

With his family watching in the stands at Busch Stadium, the young left-hander also delivered a single at the plate for his first career hit.

It was the Pirates’ sixth straight win overall and their seventh in 11 games against the Cardinals as they moved within a half-game of second place St. Louis in the National League Central.

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“Every loss stings,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “It doesn’t matter who does it to us, they all hurt.”

Pittsburgh catcher Eric Fryer’s RBI single in the fifth inning tied the game 2-2, and David Freese followed it up in the sixth with a go-ahead RBI single to score Andrew McCutchen. Three batters later, Fryer, who was claimed off waivers from the Cardinals on Sunday, pushed the score to 5-2 with a double down the right-field line. All five runs came off Cardinals starter Mike Leake, who took his third straight loss.

“They just found a couple critical hits and it kind of went their way from there,” Leake said. “[I made] mistakes. The Freese [fifth-inning double] was missing location. Harrison, that was a pretty good pitch. Fryer did a good job of putting the ball in play. They weren’t terribly located balls, but not the best.”

Brault’s only misstep came when Matt Holliday singled home Aledmys Diaz to break an 0-for-12 slump in the third. Stephen Piscotty scored in the second after reaching third on a fly ball to Gregory Polanco that should have been caught.

“I was less nervous at first than I thought. When I got into trouble, then it hit me a little bit, but overall I reacted well,” Brault said. “I tried to keep doing what I’ve been doing. With all the guys around me, it’s easy to feel comfortable on the mound and let my defense do the work. I tried to be myself and had a lot of fun.”

Brault is projected to make his second major league start with the Pirates on Sunday at home against the Chicago Cubs.

The Cardinals fell to 6-4 this season when facing a rookie starting pitcher and have lost nine consecutive games against teams with a winning record.

St. Louis backup catcher Brayan Pena uncorked a passed ball in the sixth inning that allowed McCutchen to advance to second base, and he also yielded a stolen base to Josh Harrison in the fifth. Both runners came around to score. Pirates left fielder Starling Marte — a Final Vote candidate — stole another base in the eighth inning but was stranded by Trevor Rosenthal. 

The Pirates’ bullpen had to pick up five innings after Brault’s exit. Juan Nicasio, fresh off a multi-inning appearance Monday afternoon, followed the rookie with two scoreless innings.

Arquimedes Caminero and Tony Watson each pitched a scoreless inning, setting up NL All-Star Mark Melancon, who struck out two in the ninth for his 25th save.

“Those guys out there are on a roll,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Like a lot of things, when they get in good rhythm and form and the opportunities present themselves, you keep giving them the ball. Each one of them took the ball and pitched very, very well.”

Cardinals third baseman Jhonny Peralta left the game in the top of the fourth inning with left thumb discomfort. The team announced that it wasn’t related to the thumb injury that required surgery after Spring Training and caused him to miss the first two months of the season.

The Pirates (43-41, 3rd in NL Central) also defeated the Cardinals 4-2 on Monday. The two teams will face off for the third game of their four-game series in St. Louis on Wednesday night. Left-hander Jeff Locke (8-5, 5.13 ERA) will start for Pittsburgh. He is 2-4 with a 4.04 ERA in nine career starts against St. Louis.

Left-hander Jaime Garcia (6-6, 3.84 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals (43-40, 2nd in NL Central). Garcia is 2-1 in four starts against Pittsburgh with a 0.57 ERA.

PHOTO: ST. LOUIS, MO – JULY 5: Starter Steven Brault #43 of the Pittsburgh Pirates makes his MLB debut while pitching against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 5, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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