The Cards drew first blood in the second inning. Lance Berkman singled with one out and Jeff Karstens walked Skip Schumaker on four pitches. Yadier Molina one-hopped a ball over the wall in left-center field for a ground rule double to plate a run.
JK intentionally walked Daniel Descalso, loading the bases to face opposing pitcher Chris Carpenter. Good idea, bad execution. CC singled into center to bring home a pair of runs and put the Redbirds up 3-0.
The Bucs came right back. Derrek Lee, Garrett Jones and Ryan Ludwick hit station-to-station singles to juice the sacks. Josh Harrison hit a grounder to first base that Pujols bobbled, scoring a run and keeping the bases jammed. But Karstens and Pedro Ciriaco struck out, and the Cardinals dodged a bullet to hold on to a 3-1 edge.
In the third, the Bucs got a two-out dinger from Derrek Lee, his 17th and fifth as a Pirate, into right center. Dewey followed with a triple, but was stranded when Jones lined out to right.
Rafael Furcal singled to lead off the fifth and Jon Jay doubled to right to score him as the lead grew to 4-2. Pujols reached on an infield single to the SS hole. Karstens K'ed Matt Holliday, then handed the ball to Danny Moskos. Good move; Lance Berkman bounced the first pitch to short to start an inning killing 6-4-3 DP.
Karstens threw tonight after missing two starts and didn't look like the rest did him much good. JK went 4-1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and whiffs. He needs sharp command to get through a lineup, and didn't have it tonight. It'd be nice if a starter could go seven and give the bullpen a break, although it is well stocked now with September arms.
The Pirates looked like they were ready to answer. Ciriaco and Neil Walker led off with singles and moved up a base on a McCutch roller. Lee lifted a fly to right, and El Nino came in. But Carpenter appealed, and ump Sam Holbrook rang up PC for leaving early.
Clint Hurdle came out to argue, and was told by the man in blue that Ciriaco was off to the races a step too quickly. Replay showed differently; it looked like a clean bang-bang tag. Maybe Hurdle saw it on a monitor when he went to the bench. He came storming back out to gripe a little more and got the heave-ho.
Our guess is Holbrook was looking across the field, saw the catch and turned to see the runner a couple of steps down the line (his back was turned during the actual tag), and thought he was Pedro Alvarez instead of Ciriaco and too slow to get that good a jump. Whatever, there is no appeal for the appeal, and out he remained. Ciriaco made the perfect tag just to prove that no good deed goes unpunished.
The Pirates continued their Lastings Milledge tribute in the sixth. Dewey walked and Jones got on thanks to another error by Pujols, putting Pirates at first and third with no outs. Ludwick struck out (do you notice a pattern?) and Harrison hit a fly to shallow right.
Doumit never so much as faked a run down the line, allowing Pujols to cut off Berkman's throw. At the same time, Jones was on his way to second and became easy pickings for Sir Albert, ending the inning.
McCutch wasn't deterred by the base running antics. He made it elementary when he crushed a two-run, two out homer, his 23rd, to center field to tie the game at fours in the seventh.
The eighth went quietly, and it was Hanny time in the ninth inning as he faced the bottom of the Cardinals' lineup. He was coming off a rocky 25-pitch outing yesterday, and it got rockier tonight.
Descalso singled with one out and Tyler Greene ran for him. Nick Punto doubled to left-center field and brought him home on a perfectly executed a hit-and-run to regain the lead. Rafael Furcal reached on a Ciriaco error and Jay singled off his glove; the SS needed another inch or two of hops to haul the ball in.,
With the bases loaded, Pujols flied out to right field, and Punto scored without drawing a throw from Jones, who looked like he had a chance on the play, even if it was slim. Chris Leroux took the ball from Hanrahan and finished the frame.
Pittsburgh had one last hurrah left. Harrison led off with a bloop single and El Toro rolled a single up the middle. But Ciriaco blew a two-strike bunt, forcing the lead runner on a closely contested call, and The Pittsburgh Kid bounced into a 6-4-3 DP to end the sad affair.
The good news is the bullpen appears to have regained its mojo with the reinforcements giving them a blow. Jose Veras, Jared Hughes, Daniel Moskos and Chris Leroux tossed goose eggs, even if Hanny couldn't.
But the Bucs at the dish need some help. Going 2-for-12 with RISP and hitting into two fly ball DPs while generally looking dazed on the base paths usually isn't a recipe for success, and it sure wasn't tonight. Bad at-bats and bad base running cost them tonight's tilt.
Edwin Jackson takes on Charlie Morton tomorrow in the get-away rubber match game.
- The Bucs lost their 81st game tonight. The next one will mark the 19th season of losing ball in the Steel City.
- The attendance was 16,544 for this evening's match.