ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals completed a three-game sweep of the Pirates Wednesday and did so in walk-off fashion as Peter Bourjos' two-out RBI single in the ninth provided St. Louis with a 1-0 win before a crowd of 42,864 at Busch Stadium.
It was the fifth win in a row for the Cardinals (76-63) and the fourth consecutive loss by the Pirates (71-68), who fell five games behind first-place St. Louis in the National League Central. It was the fifth time in the past six games that the Pirates were involved in a one-run game and their 54th this season. They are 27-27 in such games.
But winning the game, widening their lead and sweeping the series weren't the only things the Cardinals did to irritate the Pirates -- manager Clint Hurdle took exception to one pitch that sailed over the head of Andrew McCutchen.
That pitch came in the top of the sixth with the score tied, 0-0, two out and nobody on.
Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller threw the first pitch to McCutchen just behind his head, and it sailed all the way to the wall behind home plate.
Both benches were warned -- Pirates starter Edinson Volquez hit Matt Holliday and Matt Adams with pitchers in the fourth, but both had two strikes on them -- and then players and managers from both dugouts exchanged words.
Hurdle, who went to the umpire to have a discussion, said the pitch was uncalled for and that the Cardinals intentionally were throwing at McCutchen.
"My argument was this guy [Miller] has been hitting in a tea cup all day," Hurdle said. "He hasn't even been near anybody and then he fires that pitch and, if he hits him, well, maybe [the umpire] tosses him.
"I had the conversation with him, but that is why [there was a conference and warnings]. He [the umpire, Ron Kulpa] was also there in Arizona [when McCutchen was hit by a pitch and ended up on the disabled list], and I guess he figured he had seen enough.
"Volquez isn't going to try and hit Adams on an 0-2 count and he wasn't trying to hit Holliday when it was 0-2 and runs to 2-2. So from my perspective, it was an ambush, a cheap shot, and Ron has to make the call he makes."
McCutchen added: "He missed me, so no harm done. They had their shot and they missed me, so let's move on from there. I just missed a homer, almost. He better have taken only one shot at me given where the location of the pitch was.
"They had their chance, they had their shot, they got one and he wasn't going to do it again or he would have gotten thrown out of the game."
Not surprisingly, the Cardinals didn't quite see it the same way.
Manager Mike Matheny said Miller wasn't throwing at McCutchen and that there were no issues until the Pirates started yelling at their dugout.
"The reason it got loud was because their bench took a lot of offense to [the pitch to McCutchen] and started screaming at our bench, which we took offense to," Matheny said. "There are emotions that go into this game. We're not going to take them out. We take our job very seriously. We take our team very seriously, as well.
"In that situation, it's just emotions flying high. That's it."
Catcher Yadier Molina, who drew a two-out walk in the ninth and scored the winning run, said it was a matter of "two teams trying to win. Those things are going to happen."
McCutchen was involved in another situation in which emotions boiled over in the top of the eighth as he came to bat with two out and a runner -- perhaps the fastest Pirate, Gregory Polanco -- on second and the score tied, 0-0.
Conventional wisdom held that reliever Carlos Martinez would not give McCutchen much to hit and perhaps intentionally walk him. Instead, Martinez went right after him and struck him out with a hard slider on a 3-2 count to end the inning.
Martinez was pumped by the big out and showed it by doing a number of celebratory fist pumps and chest thumps as he walked off the mound to the dugout.
McCutchen said he was surprised Martinez pitched to him and actually threw him some hittable pitches -- and he didn't take exception to Martinez's celebration because he won that battle and deserved to be happy.
"I have a little bit of mixed emotions with that at-bat, because you know their intentions were to not give me really much to hit," McCutchen said. "There was a couple of strikes he missed his spots, in my head I was thinking he wasn't going to give me much to hit and, of course, he gives me a couple. I definitely wasn't expecting it, I just have to be ready to hit -- a good battle, he made a really good pitch and he got the edge on that one.
"He can celebrate all he wants, just don't get mad if I hit a homer, then [celebrate]. I don't mind it, it is a big part of the game, there is a guy on second [and] he is trying to get a big out, he gets a big out with a strikeout, he celebrates. There is nothing wrong with that. Just don't get mad when one of us hits one and stares at it and toss our bat and takes our time around the bases."
Miller and Volquez were both excellent, basically matching each other pitch for pitch. Neither, however, got a decision.
Volquez threw 61/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out five. Miller went seven innings, struck out five, allowed three hits and walked three.
Both bullpens kept the other team off the board until the ninth.
Pirates closer Mark Melancon started the inning by striking out Matt Adams and Jhonny Peralta, but Molina drew a two-out walk, took second on Jon Jay's single and scored on Bourjos' slow ground single up the middle.
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise. First Published September 3, 2014 4:45 PM