ST. LOUIS (AP) - In the big leagues primarily as a defensive replacement, Cardinals rookie outfielder Lane Thomas pounced with a chance to flex his hitting muscles.
Thomas ripped a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning, Paul Goldschmidt and Dexter Fowler also homered, and St. Louis beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-9 Sunday.
The Cardinals rallied from an 8-4 deficit to sweep the three-game series and move into second place in the NL Central, two games behind the Chicago Cubs.
Josh Bell had two homers and four RBIs for Pittsburgh, which has lost eight straight. Pablo Reyes added a solo shot in the ninth.
Thomas, playing his 21st game, drove in five runs. His first career slam came off Kyle Crick (3-7) and put the Cardinals ahead 9-8. He also had an RBI triple in the fourth.
"I knew he was going to throw a fastball and I just tried to get ready for it," Thomas said.
Thomas, who has been recalled from the minors four times this season, started for only the second time. Most of his other 19 appearances came as a late game defensive replacement.
"My main focus is to make sure my body feels good and that I'm ready when the opportunity comes up," Thomas said. "My role has been the defensive part of it, and I really focus on that."
St. Louis manager Mike Shildt was impressed with Thomas' all-around effort. Thomas hosed Adam Frazier at the plate with a one-hop throw from center in the first inning.
"It speaks to the kind of player that he needs to be," Shildt said. "He's going to need to be the guy that can do things like that."
Thomas' five RBI performance ties him for second among NL rookies this season behind Will Smith of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who drove in six against Washington on July 17.
Crick got two strikes on Thomas but could not put him away.
"I was going to throw a heater down," Crick said. "I think it ended up inside about thigh high and he put a pretty good swing on it."
John Gant (8-0) tossed a scoreless seventh to pick up the win. Andrew Miller recorded up his fourth save in six tries.
Goldschmidt hit his team-high 26th homer in the first inning and started the five-run seventh-inning rally with a leadoff single. Marcell Ozuna followed with a single, and Crick hit back-to-back batters to set the stage for Thomas' third homer of the season.
Fowler hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Geoff Hartlieb.
"A game that encapsulates this team's toughness," Shildt said. "We have the kind of players that you win with."