Cardinals Outlast Pirates In Sloppy Game At PNC Park

By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
The Pirates and Cardinals faced off tonight for the 15th time this season, having split the first 14 games.  This particular series is proving to be much more important to St. Louis, however, as, thanks to a nice five-game winning streak (before last night) and a partial Atlanta collapse, they’ve found themselves back in the N.L. Wild Card race.  The Pirates delivered a bit of a dagger in the Cards’ hearts last night, though, with a 6-5 victory at PNC Park.
St. Louis momentarily delayed the demise of their playoff hopes with a 6-4 victory over the Pirates in an ugly game at PNC Park tonight.
Chris Carpenter took the hill tonight for the Cardinals, who has had a ton of success against the Pirates in his career.  He also signed an extension with the Cards earlier today for two more years worth over $21 million.  Jeff Karstens returned tonight for Pittsburgh.  Both right-handers were looking for their 10th win of the season, and both were part of a pretty sloppy game played at PNC Park tonight.
Neither starting pitcher had his best stuff tonight.  Carpenter gave up four runs on ten hits, including two homeruns, through his seven innings.  As for Karstens, he only lasted 4.1 innings, surrendering four runs of his own on seven hits.
The Cardinals jumped out in front in the second inning with three runs, including a two-run single from Carpenter.  The Bucs battled back, as they’ve done all year against St. Louis, with a little help from Albert Pujols.  The Cards’ first baseman botched a relatively simple play at first base, allowing Josh Harrison to reach base and Derrek Lee to score.
Lee got the Bucs a run closer with a two-out solo homerun in the third, and after St. Louis increased the lead to 4-2, Andrew McCutchen tied the game with a two-run bomb in the seventh inning.  Cutch’s homerun, his 23rd of the season, hit in his 87th and 88th RBI’s of the season, and was his first hit since Friday night against the Florida Marlins.
The ninth inning proved to be just as sloppy as the rest of the game, resulting in two Cardinals’ runs off Joel Hanrahan, which would be the difference in the ballgame.  Nick Punto’s double and Pujols’s sacrifice fly delivered the runs for St. Louis, who evened the series with the Pirates, setting up the rubber match tomorrow afternoon. 
There were several close calls tonight that went against the Pirates, but more concerning were the miscues on the base-paths and missed opportunities.  In all, there were 13 runners left on base and four errors between the two teams.  This was a game that the Cardinals absolutely had to have, and they did what they had to do to come away with a victory. 
For Pittsburgh, it was obviously a frustrating loss.  Pedro Ciriaco got a well-deserved start at shortstop tonight, and had two hits, while every starting position player tallied at least one hit.  Pedro Alvarez got into the mix in a pinch-hit spot in the ninth inning with a single.  Unfortunately, after putting two men on base with no outs, the Pirates’ rally stalled and failed, capped off by Neil Walker grounding into a game-ending double play.
The Bucs have certainly held their own against the Cards this season, and they’ll have one final chance to win this series, and even the season series, against them tomorrow afternoon in the two teams’ final matchup of 2011.With the Red Birds’ playoff chances wearing awfully thin, a loss to the Pirates tomorrow could prove to be detrimental to their postseason hopes.
Pittsburgh on the other hand, lost for the 81st time this season.  That, of course, means that they will miss a winning season for the 19th straight year.
Record Vs. Cardinals: 7-8
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 36-37
Record At Home: 34-43
Overall Record: 67-81
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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