And in the first inning, there was. Both sides went down in order, with JK whiffing the first pair of Redbirds.
The second, not quite so. Matt Holliday led of with a double on a ball that McCutch misjudged; two outs later, Skip Schumaker rolled one through the right side to make it 1-0 St. Louis. The Bucs managed a single by Neil Walker.
In the third, the Cards were held to a one out Jon Jay walk on a 3-2 pitch. Pittsburgh also got a one out walk, drawn by JK on five pitches. JT beat out an infield single to short to put runners at first and second. Xavier Paul grounded out the second to move the duo up a station; it was a possible DP ball that Schumaker couldn't handle cleanly. McCutch made the Birds pay when he centered a curve that stayed belt high and bombed it into the left field seats, his seventeenth, and the Bucs were up 3-1.
With one out, Lance Berkman squashed a two-bagger to the Notch. David Freese singled to the shortstop hole; Berkman had to hold at second when Cedeno kept the ball from going into left. After a short fly to center, Karstens worked Gerald Laird carefully, serving nothing but sliders down and away with the pitcher on deck. He flew out on a 3-2 slider to left to end the frame.
Walker opened the frame with a liner to right for a knock; he seems to be liking the five hole. Carpenter recovered to get the bottom of the order routinely, and it's 3-1 Pittsburgh after four. Karstens threw a clean fifth. Carpenter did him better; he struck out the side and now has seven Ks in five frames.
Pujols fell behind 0-2; three pitches later, he took an above the belt heater over the outside black the opposite way for his thirtieth homer of the year to make it 3-2. After an out, Berkman walked on four pitches. On a full count slider, JK tossed a good pitch that was knee high and on the outside corner. It wasn't good enough. Freese reached out and poked it the opposite way into the right field corner for a double, bringing in Berkman with the tying run.
That brought Jason Grilli out of the pen. Karstens went 5-1/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits with two walks and five Ks on 91 pitches. Schumaker grounded out to second, moving Freese to third. Laird was walked intentionally to get the Carpenter. He rolled the first pitch to second to end the frame, but it was a new ballgame at 3-3.
The middle of the Buc order was up, and McCutch led off with a rope to left. Dewey bounced an outside half sinker to third and St. Louis got the 5-4 force. Walker and Jones finished the frame routinely, both going after the first pitch.
Grilli and Jay had a nine pitch battle. Jay finally won when his hard hit grounder went off Walker's mitt for a single; The Pittsburgh Kid didn't get much of a jump on the ball. Furcal moved him to second on a ground out to the right side, and Pujols was intentionally walked to set up a possible DP. Holliday came through as hoped by rolling a 3-2 slider that was ball four to short for the 6-4-3 twin killing, nicely started by Cedeno on the shorthop and finished with a big stretch at first by Jones, and the game remained knotted.
Carpenter didn't have any problems in the seventh; he struck out the side for the second time. Jose Veras took the hill for the eighth.
With one out, Freese hit a swinging bunt to the left side and legged it out for a knock. He was replaced by pinch runner Daniel Descalso. JV caught Schumaker looking at a curve, but Laird stroked a heater into left to put runners on the corners with two away. Corey Patterson grabbed a stick to hit for Carpenter. Laird stole second on a curve in the dirt. Veras fed Patterson another, and he went down swinging, Dewey blocking the ball and getting the out at first.
Jason Motte climbed the hill for St. Louis to take on the top of the Pirate order. After two routine outs, McCutch drew a four pitch walk and stole second two pitches later. Dewey popped out, and it stayed tied going into the ninth.
Hanny came on for Pittsburgh; so much for the "three days in a row and you sit" rule. Jay greeted him by bouncing an opposite field double inside third, and Rafael Furcal bunted him to third. Pujols was intentionally walked again. He got ahead of Holliday 0-2 and gave him a slider that caught the outside half of the plate; he lifted it plenty deep enough into center to plate Jay. Berkman bounced out, and the Bucs were down to three outs and down 4-3.
Fernando Salas came out, and his first pitch fastball was golfed over the right center wall by Walker, his tenth of the year, to quickly tie the game 4-4. Jones followed by rolling a 3-2 change up the middle for a knock and was bunted to second by Cedeno. Wood didn't have a particularly good at bat; he swung at a slider that almost hit the plate and flew out on another slider off the plate. Ryan Ludwick pinch hit; he squared up and lined the first pitch into left, but Holliday was right there for the catch.
Extra innings with Jerry Meals behind the plate. Hmmm...didn't work out so well last time; let's see what happens tonight. Chris Resop took the hill for Pittsburgh. He put down the Cards in order with eleven pitches.
Salas stayed on the hill. He got ahead of JT 0-2, but lost him as the next four pitches all missed the plate by a wide margin. Paul laid one down to move him to second. McCutch drew an intentional walk with first open. That brought up Dewey, wearing the collar tonight without hitting a ball to an outfielder.
Tony LaRussa tapped his left arm and brought in Ol' Man River Arthur Rhodes to turn Doumit around. It worked. He flew out to left, and it was up to Walker, hitting righty. He flew out to CF'er Jay, and the Bucs left the winning run at second again. The Bucs are 0-for-5 with RISP in the last three innings.
Yadier Molina lined a Resop heater into right, and Paul made a nice sliding grab to save extra bases. After a bounce out, Furcal walked on five pitches in front of Pujols. CR survived. Sir Albert flew out in front of the bullpen in center to end the eleventh, robbed of a possible game-winning gapper (Furcal was off on the pitch) by the speed of McCutch, who got a hug from his pitcher in the dugout after the inning. Heck, buy him a beer!
The baseball gods finally cracked a smile at Pittsburgh; Jones clubbed a 2-2 slider down the middle into the Allegheny to walk off a Bucco 5-4 victory. It was a grinder, with both sides having their chances. We're just glad it didn't come down to a call at the plate again.
Long balls and good defense usually lead to wins, and they did tonight. Nice victory, and with the recent draft buzz generated around the City, the Pirates might be rinsing the taste of that horrendous losing streak out of their fans' craws.
Kyle Lohse will go against Paul Maholm tomorrow night as the Bucs look to broom the Cards.
- With 58 wins, the Bucs can rest easy now - they topped 2010's victory total of 57 on August 16th.
- Milwaukee won again; they're running away with the Central. But the Bucs can still realistically pass Cincy - they're half a game behind them - and the Cards have just a five game lead on Pittsburgh. The team has to close a five game gap to reach .500 again, so they have some goals to aim for down the stretch.
- 20,934 attended tonight's game.
- Albert Pujol's homer was number 30, markng a MLB record eleventh straight season that Sir Albert has reached the benchmark.
- Scott Boras was talking nice to KDKA Radio; he must have enjoyed the bonuses his clients, Gerritt Cole and Josh Bell, wrangled from the Bucs.
- Lyle Overbay had all three RBI tonight as the D-Backs beat Philly and Doc Halliday 3-2. He must like the desert air.