The bullpen wasn't so much to blame, although St. Louis -- on a single, a stolen base, an error off that close throw and a sacrifice fly -- scratched out the winning run in the eighth inning run off newly recalled reliever Jose Ascanio. And that was how the Pirates lost their sixth consecutive game and 11th in their past 13, this by 6-4 tonight before 24,854 in PNC Park.
The Cardinals got an insurance run off Ascaino (0-2) in the ninth, pinch-batter Skip Schumaker rapping a double, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Colby Rasmus. Still, it marked the 24th run allowed in the bullpen's 27 innings since John Grabow was traded.
St. Louis' Chris Carpenter entered the game 10-1 with a 2.06 ERA lifetime against the Pirates, the major-league lead with a 2.10 ERA and a 5-0 record with a no decision in his previous six starts. He exited with as many runs against him as his prior four starts combined and five consecutive shutout innings that polished off his 11th victory against just three losses in an injury-abbreviated season. Of the final 16 batters he faced, only two got hits -- both seventh-inning singles that yielded nothing. Ryan Franklin pitched the ninth for the visitors.
Long before scoring one run in each of the final three innings to win, St. Louis scored quickly to start. With two outs in their opening at-bat, the Cardinals got a full-count single Albert Pujols -- the first of three in consecutive at-bats -- and Matt Holliday followed with a shot off the left-field rotunda's second deck. It was his fourth St. Louis homer and 15th this season.
Well, that number changed quickly, too. The home side got back-to-back homers for the third time this season, also with two outs in their opening at-bat: Garrett Jones clunked his 12th, immediately after which Ryan Doumit struck his sixth.
The Pirates grabbed a lead soon after, although that has been the modus operandi often during their post-All-Star losing skein. With two out in the third Doumit doubled off the Clemente Wall in right. Delwyn Young doubled him home with a liner into left field. Steve Pearce scored Young with a single to center and a 4-2 Pirates advantage.
The Cardinals drew even, as often have Arizona and Washington before them recently. Mark DeRosa led off the fourth with his 21st homer. Then, in the seventh, Julio Lugo drew a two-out walk from Pirates starter Paul Maholm, who went seven innings. Khalil Greene, replacing a Rick Ankiel who struck out against Maholm his previous two at-bats, scored Lugo with a hit into the right-field corner, from Young's throw toward the plate was too late for Lugo but in time for Doumit to get out Greene at third.
Defense helped St. Louis to score in the eighth. Against Ascanio, whom the Pirates received a week earlier in their trade with the Cubs, St. Louis got a one-out single from Holliday before the Pirates got to him. Holliday stole second, where Doumit's close throw eluded Young, and the baserunner took third on the error. Ryan Ludwick's sacrifice fly to short right field resulted in a high throw home from Jones, missing Holliday, who gave St. Louis a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, the game was delayed about 10 minutes while an unidentified fan in a Cardinals T-shirt was carted off the field after landing on his face trying to reach a foul ball, Pujols staying the entire time to comfort him. The man was listed in stable condition, conscious and responsive, after being taken to Allegheny General Hospital.