Duke pitched two shutout innings before spraining his left ankle running the bases, and the Pirates withstood his injury by getting big nights from three other first-year players to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-0 on Tuesday night.
Nate McLouth, one of four rookies in Pittsburgh's increasingly young lineup, hit his first career homer -- a two-run drive off the slumping Jason Marquis -- and Ty Wigginton had a three-run triple in his first Pirates at-bat in 2½ months. Chris Duffy and Ryan Doumit, the other two rookies, each reached base three times and scored a combined five runs.
With Duke off to the first 6-0 start by a rookie starting pitcher in Pirates history, the last thing the left-hander wanted was to get hurt. But X-rays proved negative, and he is expected to miss only one start at the most.
"I was feeling good and we're ahead 4-0 and I'm thinking, 'Just go out there and throw strikes,' and then that happens," Duke said. "You never want to come out with the lead, but there's nothing broken."
It was the second injury in as many nights for the Pirates, who lost promising second baseman Jose Castillo for the rest of the season Monday with a sprained left knee ligament.
"You're thinking, 'Not again,'" shortstop Jack Wilson said of Duke's injury. "But the good thing ... it isn't serious."
The Cardinals received an injury scare of their own when outfielder So Taguchi was hit on the back of his left hand by a fastball from Ryan Vogelsong in the ninth. X-rays were negative after what manager Tony La Russa called "a very scary" moment, and Taguchi may need only a day or two off.
"It's OK," he said. "It's probably going to be a sore hand tomorrow but, after that, it's probably OK."
Luckily for the Pirates, they can say the same thing about Duke.
Duke (6-0, 1.81 ERA) singled to start the second inning for his second career hit and advanced on Duffy's single. But Duke was trapped off second on McLouth's line drive that shortstop David Eckstein intentionally dropped and, trying to decide whether to head for third or go back to second, he was tagged out scrambling back to second.
"He was trying to get back to the bag and he slid a little late," general manager Dave Littlefield said.
Some fans booed as Salomon Torres warmed up to replace Duke, apparently believing the Pirates had intentionally removed Duke. The day before, manager Lloyd McClendon said it hadn't been decided how long the 22-year-old Duke would stay in the rotation because he has already pitched more innings than in any other pro season.
Torres (4-4) followed Duke with 3 2/3 shutout innings, despite giving up St. Louis' first three hits of the game in the sixth, and Rick White pitched 1 1/3 innings. John Grabow and Vogelsong finished with a scoreless inning each to complete the five-hitter and Pittsburgh's 11th shutout -- all but three with multiple pitchers -- and the sixth against St. Louis.
The Cardinals were 3-0 in Pittsburgh and 8-2 against the Pirates this season, but couldn't overcome yet another poor start by Marquis (9-13), who lost his seventh in a row. Marquis gave up eight hits and seven runs in three-plus innings and is 1-9 since he was 8-3.
"If I had the answer, I would have done it two months ago," Marquis said. "You've got to go out there and keep pitching and be aggressive and try not to lose confidence and believe in yourself."
Marquis allowed six of the first seven batters to reach base in a four-run first that included Daryle Ward's sacrifice fly and Wigginton's opposite-field triple in his first at-bat since June 5. He was the Pirates' opening day third baseman, but was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis after hitting only .204 in 35 games. Wigginton was recalled after Monday's game to replace Castillo.
- OF Larry Walker (herniated disc) didn't start as La Russa plans to use him on a day-on, day-off basis this week.
- La Russa remains one victory from tying Sparky Anderson for third place in managing victories with 2,194.
- Pirates rookie 1B Brad Eldred didn't start despite having five homers in eight games, but struck out against reliever Cal Eldred as a pinch hitter.
- The Cardinals have only three homers in eight games and seven in 15.
- Marquis' losing streak is St. Louis' longest since Jose Jimenez dropped seven consecutive in 1999.
- Duke also had another of his 10 starts shortened to two innings because of a long rain delay.