ST. LOUIS -- A pair of rookies helped the St. Louis Cardinals reduce their magic number to four for clinching the NL Central.
Pinch-hitter John Rodriguez' ninth-inning single off Salomon Torres scored Skip Schumacher in a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
"It's big," starter Mark Mulder said. "They're not just getting called up and sitting there, they're getting put in situations where they can succeed."
The Cardinals have two games left on a 10-game homestand, and need a pair of victories and two losses by second-place Houston to clinch at home. They start a four-game series in Chicago on Thursday.
"It would be nice to do it in Chicago, too," Mulder said.
St. Louis was outhit 11-6 but improved to 11-3 this season against the last-place Pirates. The Cardinals have won 18 of their last 21 games overall against the Pirates.
"Did we have 11 hits?" Pittsburgh interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "It seems to be a broken record but we did have possibilities."
Schumacher doubled off Torres (4-5) to start the ninth and advanced on a sacrifice. Abraham Nunez was intentionally walked, and Rodriguez followed with a drive over left fielder Jason Bay, who was playing in.
"You always have to be ready," Rodriguez said. "In a situation like that, I'm ready from the fourth inning on."
Jason Isringhausen (1-1) worked a perfect ninth.
Ty Wigginton and Brad Eldred each had three hits and an RBI for the Pirates, who have lost 14 of 17. Starter Mark Redman left after five innings after breaking the tip of his left index finger fouling off a bunt. He could miss the rest of the season.
"If it had to end, I'm glad it ended on a positive note," said Redman, who is 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA. "My pitch was my curveball, and I used it. It opened up a whole new game for me."
Albert Pujols' pinch-hit RBI single off Jose Mesa broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh, the Pirates' sixth blown save in 14 games. Pujols, whose hit followed a sacrifice fly by Hector Luna, did not start because of a sore upper right leg.
The Pirates tied it in the eighth with the help of a questionable decision by reliever Ray King. With runners on first and third and none out, King fielded Rob Mackowiak's comebacker and had an easy play at the plate but threw to first instead. Wigginton crossed the plate well ahead of the relay.
Pittsburgh scored only two runs off Mulder the first four innings despite accumulating seven hits, two hit batters and a walk, with the 6-7-8 batters going 5-for-5 with two RBI. Mulder gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings.
"Hung in there?" manager Tony La Russa said. "You don't just hang in there when you limit them to two runs with all those opportunities. When he had guys on base, he was outstanding."
Redman, winless in nine starts since July 24, allowed one run and two hits in five innings, with Wigginton and Mackowiak driving in a run apiece. Redman threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the fourth.
St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein saved a run with perhaps his best throw of the season, a relay to the plate that cut down Wigginton trying to score from first on Eldred's double with no outs in the fourth. Wigginton barreled into catcher Yadier Molina in an unsuccessful attempt to jar the ball loose.
Right fielder So Taguchi made a sliding catch to rob Wigginton and end the fifth.
"We saved runs all night long," La Russa said. "That's the way you had to win that game because they had so many opportunities."
Mulder has no sacrifice bunts, failing to execute twice Monday. The rest of the rotation has 23. ... Pitcher Kip Wells grounded out as a pinch hitter for Redman in the fifth. The Pirates have 27 active players, only two above the pre-Sept. 1 limit, because Triple-A Indianapolis is in the International League championship series. ... The Pirates have scored first in 17 of their last 19 road games, going 9-8. ... The Cardinals' run of 17 straight sellouts ended with paid attendance of 40,064. ... Pirates CF Nate McLouth left with a bruised right elbow after four innings.