|St. Louis (53-48)||0||1||0||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||3||10||3|
|Pittsburgh (52-47) «||0||0||1||0||1||0||1||0||0||1||4||7||1|
PITTSBURGH -- Xavier Paul was running. No matter what.
The Pittsburgh Pirate reserve watched the ball of the bat of teammate Chase D'Arnaud slice into the outfield with one out in the 10th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday and decided he was taking off regardless of where the it landed.
"It was extra inning ballgame," Paul said. "I felt like it was deep enough. I'm going to make him make a perfect throw to get me out."
St. Louis centerfielder Colby Rasmus' tracked down the ball but his throw to the plate never had a chance. Paul sprinted home with the winning run in a 4-3 victory as the Pirates avoided a three-game sweep.
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"I think in that situation right there it's do or die," Paul said. "No way you're going to get the chance to win the game [again]. It's just a hustle play and it worked out in our favor."
It's what the Pirates have done all year. Though they lack the firepower of the other three NL Central contenders, they've made up for it by finding enough ways to win to remain in the thick of things well after the Fourth of July.
"Throughout the season that's the way we've had to do it, that's the way we'll continue to plan on doing it," said manager Clint Hurdle.
The sprint home was the third hustle play by Paul in the span of a minute. He reached first by beating out an infield single, then moved to third after stealing second and taking advantage when the throw from St. Louis catcher Gerald Laird rolled into center.
"He goes a hard 90 [feet], beats the play at first and next thing you know he's on third after you try and steal a base," Hurdle said. "That's what we do and that's what we need to do."
Joe Beimel (1-1) retired the Cardinals in order to pick up his first victory as a Pirate in more than eight years as Pittsburgh snapped a three-game losing streak heading into a brutal stretch on the road against NL East leaders Atlanta and Philadelphia.
"We had a chance to win, we just couldn't get it done," said Laird, who committed two errors and was picked off of second base in the eighth. "In close games like that you've got to execute small ball and obviously make plays and we didn't make plays and we gave them opportunities and they capitalized."
Rasmus had two hits, including his 10th homer of the season for the Cardinals, who blew their 19th save of the season to fall into a virtual tie with the Pirates in the standings as their three-game winning streak ended with a thud. Jason Motte (2-1) took the loss in part because he failed to beat Paul to the bag on Paul's infielder chopper in the 10th.
"We did some fundamental things right; we also did some fundamental things wrong, so you end up losing a winnable game," said St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. "You don't play perfectly all the time, nobody does."
Pittsburgh rallied for the third time in the seventh to tie it by getting to St. Louis reliever Lance Lynn.
Cedeno led off the inning with a double and moved to third when Lynn and third baseman Daniel Descalso miscommunicated on a bunt attempt by Fryer. Cedeno tied it up on a double play by Steven Pearce and Pittsburgh's bullpen shut the door.
"It took everybody again today and they were lights out," Hurdle said.
They had to be to keep the Pirates close after Pittsburgh's offense struggled against St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse.
The veteran right-hander has struggled this month, entering the game with an 0-3 mark and a 7.64 ERA in July.
The team was so concerned about his performance it ordered the 32-year-old back to St. Louis last week to have the inflammation on the middle finger of his right [pitching] hand examined.
The tests revealed no significant damage and he was effective if not overpowering against Pittsburgh's slumping lineup. Lohse gave up two runs in five innings, striking out four while throwing 45 of his 64 pitches for strikes.
"Little sore, but I felt like I pretty much was able to make the pitches I needed to make, so I'm just doing more treatment and hope it feels better next time," Lohse said.
His numbers would have been even better if not for some uncharacteristically sloppy defense.
The Pirates scratched a run across in the third behind the first career steal by Fryer, who advanced to third when shortstop Ryan Theriot misplayed the throw from Laird.
The steal was the first against Lohse since Pittsburgh's Jose Tabata swiped second against him on Aug. 23, 2010. The sequence was repeated almost exactly in the 10th as the Pirates avoided their longest losing streak since dropping six straight in May.
They have a boost heading into a tough week, while the Cardinals begin a user-friendly portion of the schedule with home series this week against also-rans Houston and Chicago, who began the day a combined 32.5 games out of first.
"For the most part, we can build off this series," Laird said. "You always want to win series, and we won this one today. Hopefully we can make a push here because this division is getting tight."
|Chase D'Arnaud comes through with a sacrifice hit to help the Pirates avert a series sweep to the Cardinals. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
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|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Ryan Theriot, SS||5||0||1||0||0||1||5||.273|
|Jon Jay, LF||3||0||2||0||2||0||0||.311|
|Albert Pujols, 1B||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.276|
|Lance Berkman, RF||5||0||1||0||0||1||4||.288|
|Colby Rasmus, CF||4||2||2||1||1||0||1||.244|
|Skip Schumaker, 2B||4||0||2||0||0||1||2||.281|
|a- Matt Holliday, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.310|
|Jason Motte, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Gerald Laird, C||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.236|
|Daniel Descalso, 3B||2||1||0||0||3||2||0||.264|
|Kyle Lohse, P||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.143|
|b- Tony Cruz, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||2||.306|
|Lance Lynn, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c- David Freese, PH||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||.313|
|Jake Westbrook, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.107|
|Mitchell Boggs, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Nick Punto, 2B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.263|
|a-flied out for Schumaker in the 10th|
|b-struck out for Lohse in the 6th|
|c-singled for Lynn in the 8th|
|2B - Gerald Laird (6, Resop)|
|HR - Colby Rasmus (10, Morton)|
|SF - Gerald Laird (1)|
|SH - Gerald Laird (2), Kyle Lohse (5)|
|RBI - Colby Rasmus (37), Gerald Laird (7)|
|CS - Jon Jay (4, 2nd base by Morton/Fryer)|
|PK - Gerald Laird (1, Resop)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - Schumaker-Theriot-Pujols, Descalso-Schumaker-Pujols|
|E - Gerald Laird (1, Throwing), Skip Schumaker (3, Misplayed grounder), Ryan Theriot (16, Missed catch of throw)|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|Lance Lynn (BS,1)||2||2||1||1||2||2||0||3.67|
|Jason Motte (L,3-2)||0.2||1||1||0||0||0||0||2.33|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kyle Lohse 64-45, Lance Lynn 32-19, Mitchell Boggs 17-10, Jason Motte 14-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kyle Lohse 4-7, Lance Lynn 2-1, Mitchell Boggs 4-1, Jason Motte 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Kyle Lohse 19, Lance Lynn 9, Mitchell Boggs 6, Jason Motte 3|
|Chase D'Arnaud, 3B||4||0||1||2||0||0||0||.228|
|Matt Diaz, LF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.273|
|Joel Hanrahan, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Joe Beimel, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Neil Walker, 2B||3||0||0||0||1||3||1||.269|
|Andrew McCutchen, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.280|
|Lyle Overbay, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.233|
|Garrett Jones, RF||4||0||0||0||0||2||3||.235|
|Ronny Cedeno, SS||4||2||2||0||0||0||1||.256|
|Eric Fryer, C||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.294|
|Charlie Morton, P||1||0||0||1||0||1||1||.032|
|Jason Grilli, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Steve Pearce, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.283|
|Chris Resop, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Xavier Paul, LF||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||.258|
|a-grounded into a double play for Grilli in the 7th|
|2B - Chase D'Arnaud (5, Lohse), Ronny Cedeno 2 (17, Lohse, Lynn)|
|SF - Chase D'Arnaud (1), Charlie Morton (2)|
|RBI - Chase D'Arnaud 2 (3), Charlie Morton (2)|
|SB - Eric Fryer (1, 3rd base off Lohse/Laird), Xavier Paul (10, 3rd base off Motte/Laird)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|E - Charlie Morton (1, Throwing)|
|Joe Beimel (W,1-1)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||4.50|
|IBB - Rasmus by Jason Grilli|
|WP - Charlie Morton 2 (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Charlie Morton 94-54, Jason Grilli 24-15, Chris Resop 16-12, Joel Hanrahan 14-9, Joe Beimel 11-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Charlie Morton 9-3, Jason Grilli 3-0, Joel Hanrahan 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Charlie Morton 26, Jason Grilli 7, Chris Resop 4, Joel Hanrahan 4, Joe Beimel 3|
|Attendance - 35402|
|Game Time - 3:14|
|Temperature - 81|
|Umpires - Home - John Hirschbeck, First Base - Scott Barry, Second Base - Laz Diaz, Third Base - Wally Bell|