St. Louis at Pittsburgh

Scoreboard
St. Louis (80-68) «0300100026113
Pittsburgh (67-81)0110002004121

Cardinals down Pirates, keep playoff hopes alive

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- Not even a shaky defensive performance by Albert Pujols could cool the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals.

Nick Punto hit a go-ahead double in the ninth inning and the surging Cardinals overcame three errors by their superstar first baseman to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4 Tuesday night.

Trying to stay in the wild card and NL Central races, the Cardinals won for the sixth time in seven games.

"We still got a huge hole to climb out of, but at least we're playing some meaningful baseball in September," Punto said.

The loss dropped the Pirates to 67-81. Once in the midst of a promising run, they are stuck with a non-winning season for the 19th straight year. Pittsburgh is just 16-37 since briefly moving into first place on July 19.

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"We haven't done enough things in a number of these games that have put us in position to have 81 losses, that's where we are right now," manager Clint Hurdle said.

Working on the day he signed a $21 million, two-year contract, Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter hit an early two-run single. He took a 4-2 lead into the seventh, but Andrew McCutchen tied it with a two-out homer.

"I was battling all night but I made some good pitches when I had to," Carpenter said. "It was one of those nights ... but it wasn't like they were bashing it all over the place. But we did what we needed to do, and that's what's important right now."

The Pirates brought in closer Joel Hanrahan (0-4) in the ninth inning of a tie game, and he struggled with his command. Daniel Descalso collected his third single with one out and was replaced by Tyler Greene.

Punto has struggled with injuries this year but looked just fine drilling a Hanrahan fastball into the gap and Greene scored easily. Pujols provided some insurance with a sacrifice fly to take some of the sting out of his woeful night in the field. The two-time Gold Glove winner now has 14 errors this season.

"When you play this game, crazy things are going to happen," Pujols said. "At the end I just flip the page and I'm glad we got the win and those three errors didn't cause a loss."

The Pirates put runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth, but Pedro Ciriaco bunted into a forceout and Neil Walker grounded into a double play to end it.

Kyle McClellan (11-6) earned the win in relief and Jason Motte worked the ninth for his sixth save.

Carpenter, now signed to stay with St. Louis through 2013, allowed 10 hits, struck out six and walked one. The 36-year-old right-hander appeared well on his way to his 10th victory of the season until McCutchen hit his 23rd homer, snapping out of a 1-for-15 slump.

"I had good stuff tonight," Carpenter said. "I felt like I did the best I could and I got beat by one pitch late in the game."

Pittsburgh, which rallied for a dramatic 6-5 win on Monday, couldn't finish the job this time as the Cardinals kept their flickering playoff hopes alive.

"It was a good, gutty hang-in-there type of win, especially after yesterday," manager Tony La Russa said. "You get your heart broken, which means it wasn't broken, it was just bruised a little bit."

Heartbreak is an all-too familiar feeling in Pittsburgh and some baserunning gaffes helped continue the team's late-summer swoon.

The Pirates lost an apparent run in the fifth after Ciriaco tagged up on a fly by Derrek Lee. Carpenter threw the ball to third and Ciriaco was called out on appeal for leaving too early.

Hurdle came out to argue before heading back to the dugout, then took up the cause a half-inning later and was promptly ejected for the fifth time this season.

"I couldn't let Pedro wear it," Hurdle said. "Everybody in the ballpark thinks he left early and that's not normal protocol to go in there after that but I had someone I trust tell me 'No, he left right on time' and I just can't let the kid wear it. I've got to have his back."

Lee singled and scored on Pujols' error in the second, and hit a solo home run in the third. Still, it wasn't enough to prevent the Pirates from coming within one loss of yet another losing season.

"I made three mistakes, three errors, and they made some mistakes running the bases," Pujols said. "It happens. It's part of the game."

Notes

  • St. Louis OF Matt Holliday left before batting in the ninth after having trouble gripping the bat with his right hand. He'll be examined on Wednesday.
  • The Cardinals activated right-handed reliever Eduardo Sanchez from the 60-day DL. He hasn't pitched since June because of a strained shoulder.
  • The series concludes on Wednesday, with Edwin Jackson (4-2, 3.39 ERA) starting for the Cardinals against Charlie Morton (9-9, 3.81 ERA). Morton has struggled against the Cardinals, going just 2-4 with a 6.69 ERA against them in seven career starts. Jackson can move to .500 on his career with a victory. The 27-year-old is 59-60.
 
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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Tyler Greene trots home in the ninth inning to give the Cardinals the go-ahead run against the Pirates.  (AP)
Tyler Greene trots home in the ninth inning to give the Cardinals the go-ahead run against the Pirates. (AP)

Players of the Game
St. Louis

J. Jay
AB 5
R 0
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Pittsburgh

D. Lee
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Rafael Furcal, SS5110001 .221
Jon Jay, CF5021012 .310
Albert Pujols, 1B4011000 .297
Matt Holliday, LF4000022 .295
   a- Corey Patterson, PH-RF1000002 .241
Lance Berkman, RF4110001 .290
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
Skip Schumaker, 2B3100110 .295
    Arthur Rhodes, P0000000 .000
    Kyle McClellan, P0000000 .143
    Ryan Theriot, 2B0000000 .271
Yadier Molina, C4111010 .293
Daniel Descalso, 3B3030100 .270
    Tyler Greene, PR0100000 .196
    Adron Chambers, LF0000000 .000
Chris Carpenter, P3012012 .159
    Nick Punto, 2B-3B1111000 .268
Totals37611626  
a-lined out for Holliday in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jon Jay (22, Karstens), Yadier Molina (27, Karstens), Nick Punto (7, Hanrahan)
SF - Albert Pujols (7)
RBI - Jon Jay (36), Albert Pujols (93), Yadier Molina (58), Chris Carpenter 2 (3), Nick Punto (15)
SB - Rafael Furcal (8, 2nd base off Karstens/Doumit)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Lance Berkman 1
DP - Berkman-Carpenter-Descalso, Berkman-Pujols, Furcal-Theriot-Pujols
E - Albert Pujols 3 (14, Misplayed grounder)
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Chris Carpenter 71044162 3.80
Arthur Rhodes 0.2000000 4.94
Kyle McClellan (W,11-6) 0.1000000 4.04
Jason Motte (S,6) 1200000 1.59
Pitches-Strikes - Chris Carpenter 112-80, Arthur Rhodes 5-5, Kyle McClellan 1-1, Jason Motte 16-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Chris Carpenter 8-6, Arthur Rhodes 2-0, Jason Motte 2-0
Batters Faced - Chris Carpenter 31, Arthur Rhodes 2, Kyle McClellan 1, Jason Motte 4
Pittsburgh Pirates
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Pedro Ciriaco, SS5120016 .333
Neil Walker, 2B5010012 .273
Andrew McCutchen, CF4112010 .265
Derrek Lee, 1B4221002 .260
Ryan Doumit, C3010101 .301
Garrett Jones, RF4010001 .247
Ryan Ludwick, LF4010012 .239
Josh Harrison, 3B4011002 .264
Jeff Karstens, P2000023 .087
    Daniel Moskos, P0000000 .000
    Jared Hughes, P0000000 .000
   a- Alex Presley, PH1010000 .308
    Jose Veras, P0000000 .000
    Joel Hanrahan, P0000000 .000
    Chris Leroux, P0000000 .000
   b- Pedro Alvarez, PH1010000 .193
    Chase D'Arnaud, PR0000000 .200
Totals37412416  
a-singled for Hughes in the 7th
b-singled for Leroux in the 9th
Batting
3B - Ryan Doumit (1, Carpenter)
HR - Andrew McCutchen (23, Carpenter), Derrek Lee (17, Carpenter)
RBI - Andrew McCutchen 2 (88), Derrek Lee (54), Josh Harrison (14)
2-OUT RBI - Andrew McCutchen 2 (25), Derrek Lee (23)
CS - Pedro Ciriaco (1, 2nd base by Carpenter/Molina)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Ciriaco-Walker-Lee
E - Pedro Ciriaco (1, Misplayed grounder)
Pittsburgh Pirates
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Jeff Karstens 4.1744220 3.45
Daniel Moskos 1.2100010 2.61
Jared Hughes 1000010 0.00
Jose Veras 1000020 3.59
Joel Hanrahan (L,0-4) 0.2321000 1.79
Chris Leroux 0.1000000 1.61
IBB - Descalso by Jeff Karstens
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Karstens 68-38, Daniel Moskos 14-11, Jared Hughes 15-8, Jose Veras 15-10, Joel Hanrahan 27-15, Chris Leroux 1-1
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Karstens 8-3, Daniel Moskos 3-0, Jared Hughes 2-0, Joel Hanrahan 2-1
Batters Faced - Jeff Karstens 22, Daniel Moskos 5, Jared Hughes 3, Jose Veras 3, Joel Hanrahan 6, Chris Leroux 1
Game Information
Attendance - 16544
Game Time - 2:53
Temperature - 78
Umpires - Home - Chad Fairchild, First Base - Joe West, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Sam Holbrook