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By Chad Carlson
Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
The Pirates’ lack of ability to score runs has plagued them to some extent all season, but recently it’s cost them to fall into a huge rut that has run them out of the N.L. Central division race, as well as weaken their chances at a .500 season.  The lack of power has been the most evident, with very few balls leaving the yard at PNC Park all season. 
At the very least, this upcoming home stand was an opportunity for the Pirates to play spoiler against the three N.L. Central teams ahead of them in the standings, beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals tonight.
Ryan Doumit went 4-4, including a three-run homerun, to lead the Pirates past the Cardinals, 6-2 tonight at PNC Park.
Despite their recent offensive struggles, it didn’t take long for the Pirates to get on the board tonight against Jake Westbrook, as Xavier Paul hammered the second pitch he saw to dead center field to give the Bucs a 1-0 lead.
The Cardinals tied the game in the third inning on an RBI double by Rafael Furcal.  The extra base hit scored Ryan Theriot, who led off the frame with a base hit.
Doumit put the Pirates back on top in the fourth inning with a three-run homerun to right field, scoring Neil Walker and Garrett Jones, who each reached base with singles.
After the Cardinals added a run in the sixth inning, Pittsburgh added a single run in the sixth and seventh innings, including an RBI double by Walker in the seventh, scoring Ryan Ludwick from first, giving the Bucs a 6-2 advantage.
The Pirates’ starting pitching continued its recent trend of quality performances, as James McDonald threw a solid game tonight, giving up two runs on six hits through 5.2 innings of work.  He pitched himself out of a couple jams throughout the night, keeping his team in front and earning his eighth win of the season.
The bullpen was also strong tonight for Pittsburgh, as Jason Grilli, Daniel McCutchen, and Jose Veras combined to pitch shutout baseball, setting the table for Joel Hanrahan to close out the Cardinals in the ninth.
Veras, who has struggled mightily as of late, struck out Albert Pujols in the seventh inning with two runners on, ending the frame and retiring the Cards in the eighth in order.
Obviously, any Pirates’ fan knows this was a big one to win tonight.  In fact, this was the first Pirates’ victory at PNC Park since July 24, when they beat these same Cardinals.  So much has changed since then, but Pittsburgh played a nice game tonight, with all of the aspects of the game that helped them have such a phenomenal first half of the season firing off again tonight. 
The Buccos will look to carry the momentum of tonight’s win onto tomorrow, as they face off against the Cards in the second of this three-game series.  Jeff Karstens will make take the mound for Pittsburgh.
Record Vs. Cardinals: 4-3
Record Vs. N.L. Central: 26-23
Record At Home: 27-32
Overall Record: 57-63
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!