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St. Louis at Pittsburgh

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Pujols aside, Cardinals can't solve Pirates pitching

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Back in spring training, this is how the Pittsburgh Pirates envisioned the season going. They would have strong young pitching, excellent leadoff hitting from Chris Duffy and a productive middle of the order.

Ian Snell pitched seven effective innings and Freddy Sanchez's three hits led to each of the last-place Pirates' runs in a 3-2 victory over the NL Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.

Snell (10-8), the only Pirates starter with a winning record who has been with the club all season, was successful in his third attempt at victory No. 10, giving up only Albert Pujols' two-run homer in the fifth inning.

"He was mixing it up pretty nice, throwing an 88-miles per hour changeup and sometimes as high as a 96-miles per hour fastball and a good little slider," Scott Spiezio said. "He was real tough."

Pujols' 35th homer of the season was his 19th in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001, easily the most of any opposing player.

The Cardinals, losing their fourth in five games and 12th in 16, again had no offense except for Pujols. He went 4-for-4 with three doubles Friday but couldn't prevent a 7-1 loss as the Pirates' Zach Duke pitched a complete game.

"We're not going to single the guy out, make like Albert's great and the other guys weren't," manager Tony La Russa said. "There weren't that many balls hit hard. And that's not taking away from Snell, he pitched well. We're capable of doing more than we did."

The Pirates have won 10 of their last 14 at home and are 14-13 since being 30 games below .500 at the All-Star break.

"We make mistakes and we pay for them, but we're a young team and we're learning and it's all going to come together -- hopefully to finish out this year," Snell said.

Snell struck out six and walking three while twice fanning Spiezio to end innings with two runners on base.

"I think I've proved myself enough, and I'm trying to show my team -- and myself -- I'm reliable and that I can do this the rest of the year," Snell said.

His 10 victories are as many as the Pirates' team leader Dave Williams, had last season. Back in April, when he gave up 16 runs in 15 innings in his first three starts, the 24-year-old Snell wasn't sure if it would be this way.

"It was horrible. I'm surprised they weren't at my apartment with pitch forks," Snell said. "But if you're a young pitcher, you're going to go through ups and downs."

John Grabow pitched a scoreless eighth, getting Pujols to ground out, before Mike Gonzalez finished up in the ninth for his 20th save in as many opportunities this season. He has converted 24 attempts in a row since August 2004, the longest streak in the majors.

The Cardinals have been the majors' top team in August -- a key month that often sets the tone for the September stretch drive -- by going 114-73 since 2000. But they are 4-8 this month, cutting their division lead to 2½ games over Cincinnati.

Jeff Weaver was 4-0 in his previous five starts against Pittsburgh, but took the loss after giving up three runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

Weaver (2-3) was out of the game when Jason Bay hit a tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the eighth off Braden Looper following singles by Duffy and Sanchez and Jack Wilson's walk against Weaver.

Sanchez, who leads the NL with a .344 average, also singled in a run in the first after Duffy singled and stole second. After Pujols' first-pitch homer off Snell put the Cardinals up 2-1 in the fifth, consecutive one-out singles by Sanchez, Bay and Jeromy Burnitz tied it in the bottom of the inning.

Duffy, a .341 hitter as a rookie last season, has five hits in two games after going 3-for-32 following his Aug. 1 call-up. He began the season as a starter, but balked at being sent to the minors with a .194 average after 31 games and didn't play for more than a month.

"I think every day I'm getting a little more (momentum)," Duffy said.

Before winning the first two games of the three-game series, the Pirates were 2-7 against St. Louis this season, 6-19 the last two seasons and 12-34 in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened.

Notes

  • Pujols is 5-for-7 in the series and 13-of-24 (.542) against the Pirates this season.
  • The Cardinals are 25-29 against the NL Central after going 51-29 during their 100-win season last year.
  • Pirates OF Nate McLouth sat out with a sore ankle, a night after driving in a career-high three runs.
  • Snell was 1-for-33 (.030) at the plate until he singled to load the bases in the fourth, but Duffy grounded out to end the threat.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Ian Snell -- and the Pirates -- improve to 2-0 while wearing Homestead Grays uniforms this season.  (AP)
Ian Snell -- and the Pirates -- improve to 2-0 while wearing Homestead Grays uniforms this season. (AP)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

I. Snell
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 3
K 6
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
St. Louis Cardinals
David Eckstein, SS4010001
Chris Duncan, LF3110111
Albert Pujols, 1B3112101
Jim Edmonds, CF4010032
Scott Spiezio, 3B4000024
Juan Encarnacion, RF4000010
Ronnie Belliard, 2B2000101
    Braden Looper, P0000000
   a- So Taguchi, PH1000000
Yadier Molina, C3010001
Jeff Weaver, P2000011
    Aaron Miles, 2B1000001
Totals312523813 
a-flied out for Looper in the 9th
Batting
2B - David Eckstein (, Snell), Chris Duncan (, Snell)
HR - Albert Pujols (, Snell)
RBI - Albert Pujols 2 ()
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols 2 ()
Team LOB - 5
St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Weaver (L,-) 5.11033330
Braden Looper 2.2100200
IBB - F. Sanchez by Braden Looper
HBP - Nady (by Jeff Weaver)
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Weaver 113-67, Braden Looper 31-18
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Weaver 6-7, Braden Looper 3-5
Batters Faced - Jeff Weaver 30, Braden Looper 11
Pittsburgh Pirates
Chris Duffy, CF5230003
Jack Wilson, SS3010101
Freddy Sanchez, 2B4131111
Jason Bay, LF3011113
Jeromy Burnitz, RF3011103
    John Grabow, P0000000
   a- Joe Randa, PH1000002
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000
Xavier Nady, 1B3010002
Jose Bautista, 3B3000115
Ronny Paulino, C4000006
Ian Snell, P3010000
   b- Jose Hernandez, PH-RF1000001
Totals3331135327 
a-lined out for Grabow in the 8th
b-hit into fielder's choice for Snell in the 7th
Batting
SF - Jason Bay ()
SH - Jack Wilson ()
RBI - Freddy Sanchez (), Jason Bay (), Jeromy Burnitz ()
SB - Chris Duffy (, 2nd base off Weaver/Molina)
Team LOB - 14
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Chris Duffy 1
DP - J. Bautista-F. Sanchez-Nady, Duffy-F. Sanchez-Nady
E - Jeromy Burnitz (, )
Pittsburgh Pirates
Ian Snell (W,-) 7522361
John Grabow (H,) 1000020
Mike Gonzalez (S,) 1000000
IBB - Pujols by Ian Snell
Pitches-Strikes - Ian Snell 101-64, John Grabow 13-8, Mike Gonzalez 6-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Snell 5-9, John Grabow 1-0, Mike Gonzalez 2-1
Batters Faced - Ian Snell 28, John Grabow 3, Mike Gonzalez 3
Game Information
Attendance - 35037
Game Time - 2:35
Temperature - 74
Umpires - Home - Gerry Davis, First Base - Brian Gorman, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Eric Cooper