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St. Louis at Pittsburgh

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St. Louis (77-73)001010000281
Pittsburgh (52-98) «30020000x561

Pirates pitching shuts down fast-fading Cardinals

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Pirates wish they'd played and pitched this way all season. The St. Louis Cardinals wish they were pitching and playing now the way they did most of the season.

Paul Maholm became the latest slumping pitcher to shut down the fast-fading Cardinals, pitching effectively over seven innings, and the Pirates won their season-high fourth in a row 5-2 on Tuesday night.

The Pirates remain two losses way from their first 100-loss season since 2001, but are 4-0 on a homestand that began with a three-game sweep of Arizona. Pittsburgh hadn't won that many in a row since a five-game run from Aug. 17-22, 2009, against the Brewers and Reds.

More on Cardinals

"The staff has settled in a little bit, guys are playing hard, and they still have goals in mind they'd like to accomplish," manager John Russell said. "It's good they're not just looking forward to that last day [of the season] in Florida and in heading off to the offseason. They're still playing hard and still competing."

For the Cardinals, elimination is near. Their 24th loss in 36 games dropped their magic number for elimination in the NL Central to five. First-place Cincinnati was playing in Milwaukee.

The Cardinals probably didn't see this coming when they were in first place on Aug. 14, a few days after sweeping three in Cincinnati, but their season has come undone while facing teams and pitchers with poor records. They have dropped their last seven series against teams under .500.

They also keep being beaten by pitchers with elevated ERAs. A day after falling 4-0 to Florida's Chris Volstad, who began the game with a 5.11 ERA, they couldn't get to Maholm (8-15), who came into his 31st start of the season with a 5.36 ERA and a six-game losing streak.

"We didn't even get on base [against Volstad]," manager Tony La Russa said. "Today, we had some good at-bats, made a lot of things happen, but we just couldn't break through."

Maholm, who had one win since July 18, gave up runs on Albert Pujols' RBI double in the third and force-play grounder in the fifth but otherwise checked the Cardinals on seven hits, striking out four and walking none. It was his first start without a walk since he beat Houston 9-0 with a three-hitter on July 18.

"I'm a much better pitcher than I've showed and that's the frustrating part," Maholm said. "A lot of people expect me to go deep into games, and obviously I haven't been. Tonight felt normal and hopefully I can finish my last two [starts] like that."

Evan Meek pitched the ninth inning for his fourth save in 10 opportunities after Joel Hanrahan worked a scoreless eighth.

Others who have beaten St. Louis recently include John Lannan, Jeff Samardzjia and Chris Narveson.

"We're trying to win ballgames, and that's the disappointing part about not pitching well," said Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, who fell behind 3-0 in the first. "You want to go out there and pitch well and get as many Ws as we can and see what happens. To not pitch well and be one of the main reasons that we lose, it's disappointing."

The Pirates, 50 games under .500 when the homestand began Friday, grabbed their early lead when Westbrook walked Neil Walker and Garrett Jones with a runner on to load the bases. Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Doumit singled in runs, and John Bowker was credited with an RBI when his hard-hit grounder roiled up the arm of shortstop Brendan Ryan for an error.

Westbrook, who needed 41 pitches to get through the first, was lifted after yielding five hits and five runs -- one start after he shut out San Diego for eight innings. Two of Westbrook's four losses since being dealt by Cleveland to St. Louis have been in Pittsburgh, which remains on pace to lose more than 100 games for the first time since 1985 despite its modest winning streak.

Jose Tabata made it 5-1 in the fourth with a two-run triple after Ronny Cedeno singled and Andrew McCutchen walked.

Notes

  • The Pirates could lose 100 games and have a winning record at home. They are 37-39 at PNC Park, but are a major league worst 15-59 on the road.
  • Maholm was 2-9 in his previous 14 starts.
  • Pujols is 16 of 24 against Maholm.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Paul Maholm checks the Cardinals on seven hits, four strikeouts and no walks.  (Getty Images)
Paul Maholm checks the Cardinals on seven hits, four strikeouts and no walks. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

A. Pujols
AB 4
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
Pittsburgh

P. Maholm
IP 7.0
H 7
ER 2
BB 0
K 4
 

Related Video

St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Tyler Greene, 2B-3B4010021 .222
Allen Craig, RF3010001 .193
    Trever Miller, P0000000 .000
    Aaron Miles, 2B1000000 .289
Albert Pujols, 1B4022000 .307
Matt Holliday, LF4010005 .313
Yadier Molina, C4010012 .262
Colby Rasmus, CF4000013 .277
Pedro Feliz, 3B3000002 .218
    Mitchell Boggs, P0000000 .000
    Dennys Reyes, P0000000 .000
   a- Skip Schumaker, PH1000010 .268
Jake Westbrook, P1000002 .095
   b- Joe Mather, PH-RF2110010 .204
   c- Jon Jay, PH1000000 .306
Brendan Ryan, SS3110001 .220
   d- Randy Winn, PH1000000 .247
Totals3628206  
a-struck out for Reyes in the 9th
b-singled for Westbrook in the 5th
c-grounded out for Mather in the 9th
d-flied out for Ryan in the 9th
Batting
2B - Albert Pujols (37, Maholm)
RBI - Albert Pujols 2 (109)
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (41)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Brendan Ryan (16, Misplayed grounder)
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jake Westbrook (L,8-11) 4555320 4.37
Trever Miller 1.2100000 3.82
Mitchell Boggs 1.1000020 3.76
Dennys Reyes 1000000 3.75
Pitches-Strikes - Jake Westbrook 89-52, Trever Miller 13-9, Mitchell Boggs 17-12, Dennys Reyes 12-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jake Westbrook 6-5, Trever Miller 3-2, Mitchell Boggs 1-1, Dennys Reyes 2-1
Batters Faced - Jake Westbrook 21, Trever Miller 6, Mitchell Boggs 4, Dennys Reyes 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Andrew McCutchen, CF3100111 .277
Jose Tabata, LF4122010 .304
Neil Walker, 2B3100101 .296
Garrett Jones, 1B3100110 .246
Pedro Alvarez, 3B4011000 .228
Ryan Doumit, C4011000 .255
John Bowker, RF4001000 .203
Ronny Cedeno, SS3120003 .249
Paul Maholm, P1000013 .093
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
    Evan Meek, P00000001.000
Totals2956534  
Batting
3B - Jose Tabata (3, Westbrook)
SH - Paul Maholm 2 (7)
RBI - Jose Tabata 2 (33), Pedro Alvarez (44), Ryan Doumit (43), John Bowker (15)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Tabata 2 (16)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Neil Walker (8, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Paul Maholm (W,8-15) 7722040 5.25
Joel Hanrahan (H,18) 1100010 3.43
Evan Meek (S,4) 1000010 2.01
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 101-67, Joel Hanrahan 16-11, Evan Meek 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 8-9, Joel Hanrahan 1-2, Evan Meek 1-1
Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 28, Joel Hanrahan 5, Evan Meek 3
Game Information
Attendance - 15478
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Wally Bell, First Base - John Hirschbeck, Second Base - James Hoye, Third Base - Laz Diaz