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STL@CHC: Pierzynski knocks three hits in Cards debut

CHICAGO -- A.J. Pierzynski and Shelby Miller had never formally met until Saturday.

The last time they were acquainted was June 22 of last year, when Pierzysnki, then with the Rangers, belted a two-run homer off the Cardinals' pitcher.

But a void left by an injury to All-Star backstop Yadier Molina brought the two together on a muggy afternoon at Wrigley Field, after the Cardinals signed Pierzynski on Saturday morning. St. Louis went on to snap a four-game losing streak with a 6-3 win over the Cubs.

Yet for 5 2/3 innings on Saturday, including three perfect frames to start the game, the two played pitch-and-catch against a Cubs offense that scored seven runs the day before.

"After every inning, we tried to talk," said Pierzynski, who went 3-for-4 on the day with an RBI. "I just wanted him to be comfortable with me more than anything. I was talking about where he wanted me to set up, where he wanted me to move, what he liked to throw, how he liked to throw it."

Pierzynski and Miller were aided by an early lead provided by Matt Adams, whose two-run double in the first accounted for two of his four RBIs. Adams also brought a pair home with a triple in the seventh in a four-run inning that all but sealed the win.

"[Adams is] hitting just about any pitch in multiple parts of the strike zone, and that creates a tough out for anybody," said Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. "He's able to handle breaking balls down and in, he's able to handle balls away with velocity, and he's able to get on top of the ball if you try to elevate on him."

The Cardinals sent all nine batters to the plate in the seventh, starting with Jon Jay, who led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, narrowly swiped third then slid under a tag at home on a fielder's choice to break a 2-2 tie.

Cubs reliever James Russell then fanned Kolten Wong for the second out of the inning, but walked Matt Holliday on a full count before Adams' triple.

Miller gave up runs on an Anthony Rizzo groundout in the fourth and a homer to pinch-hitter Nate Schierholtz in the sixth. He allowed just three hits and no walks on 87 pitches, including 74 fastballs.

"It was working, so why would we go away from it?" Pierzynski said.

"When [Miller is] right, he has that little extra life that guys have a little trouble with," Matheny said. "We've seen that effect on us as well. It's sneaky. It jumps out on you a little bit. A lot of it has to do [with] when he's got his mechanics together and he is effortless."

Miller was relieved by lefty Randy Choate, who struck out Rizzo on a 1-2 sinker to end the sixth.

The Cardinals went to the bullpen three more times, bringing in Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek -- who allowed a solo homer to Ryan Sweeney -- and Trevor Rosenthal, who earned his MLB-leading 31st save.

"A four-run lead in Wrigley is like a two-run lead anywhere else," Matheny said. "We've got to be aggressive."

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