With little to play for, Pittsburgh is 16-15 since a five-game losing streak coming out of the All-Star break. It has also won three of its last four games.
"It's all-around good baseball — good pitching, timely hitting," Pirates designated hitter Andrew McCutchen, who hit his 299th career homer on Tuesday, told AT&T Sportsnet.
"We've just got to stay consistent with it."
The Cardinals aren't just losing games — they have dropped six of their last seven and are 17 games under .500 — but they are also losing their tempers.
St. Louis catcher Willson Contreras might have set himself up for a suspension with his actions in the seventh inning on Tuesday.
After he struck out with the bases loaded to end the inning, he argued about balls and strikes, then drew an apparent strike zone in the dirt around the plate with his bat and slammed the bat down. He and Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol got ejected by plate umpire Brennan Miller.
Marmol indicated he agreed that calls were missed.
"He's competing, and when you do your job, you want to be rewarded for it. ... Willson was doing his job," Marmol said.
St. Louis outfielder Jordan Walker got ejected in the eighth, also for apparently arguing balls and strikes.
In the series finale, St. Louis will likely turn to left-hander Zack Thompson (2-5, 3.90 ERA), while Pittsburgh added right-hander Luis L. Ortiz (2-3, 4.86) to its taxi squad on Tuesday, and he's a solid bet to be recalled to get the start on Wednesday.
As recently as Tuesday, the Cardinals expected to start Matthew Liberatore on Wednesday. He originally was slated to start Monday before he experienced lower back tightness late last week after a workout, and Marmol expressed confidence that pushing the left-hander's outing back two days would be sufficient.
However, Liberatore hit the 15-day injured list on Tuesday.
Thompson is 0-2 over his past five outings. Most recently, he took a tough-luck loss on Friday against the New York Mets when he gave up two runs and six hits in five innings, with five strikeouts and one walk.
"We wanted to keep him right around 80 pitches. Ended at 83," Marmol said. "Really nice job by him that allows us to take him up to 95, 100 pitches the next time out, which is ideal."
Thompson is 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA in six career games (one start) against the Pirates.
Ortiz looks as if he will be given another chance after being optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis in early July.
He was brought up in May and pitched in 11 games (10 starts) before being sent back down after he struggled in back-to-back starts (10 runs over eight innings with four walks and three strikeouts).
The last of those starts was against the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 4, a game in which Ortiz gave up six runs and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Ortiz is 0-1 with a 23.63 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.
—Field Level Media