Lofton went 0-for-5 to end his streak, but the Pittsburgh
Pirates handed Williams his first loss in nine months in a 4-3
victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
"The media made a big deal of it, but it was fun and a little
mind-boggling at the same time," said Lofton, who turned 36 on
Saturday. "I hit the ball hard, it just didn't fall in today."
The Pirates have won five of six, including the first two games
of the three-game series. The Cardinals fell to 2-4 on a 13-game
homestand, their longest of the season, despite the return of
center fielder and cleanup hitter Jim Edmonds _ who missed two
games with bruised ribs.
The defending NL Central champions are 27-27.
"It makes no difference what the rest of the league is doing,"
manager Tony La Russa said. "If we're at .500, that's not good
"But I'm satisfied with the way we're going about it and I
think we'll finish well over .500 and in contention."
Williams (7-1) failed in his bid to become the NL's first
eight-game winner, allowing four runs -- two earned -- in eight
innings. He lost for the first time in 15 starts since Aug. 29,
2002 at Cincinnati, although his ERA remained at an NL-leading
"I didn't pitch the way I should have pitched," Williams said.
"I got outpitched. It's over now."
Lofton struck out, reached on an error, flied out twice and
lined out to the mound in the ninth to end the streak that was tied
with Boston's Nomar Garciaparra for the longest in the major
leagues this season. Garciaparra's streak ended on Wednesday.
Lofton batted .406 (43-106) during the streak, which fell one
shy of the team record set by Jimmy Williams in 1899. He lobbied
just a bit after the game that a grounder that shortstop Edgar
Renteria bobbled to start the third could have been ruled a hit.
"I'm surprised he even got a glove on it," Lofton said. "It
hit off the dirt and kind of handcuffed him, but that's just the
way those things go."
Kip Wells (2-2) made his first start in 15 days due to blisters
on his pitching hand and worked five innings, allowing solo homers
by J.D. Drew and Albert Pujols. He struck out one and walked three
to win for the first time since May 1.
"Fortunately, solo home runs usually don't beat you," Wells
Drew hit his fourth homer, and second off the right-field
scoreboard this season, with one out in the first. The drive was
estimated at 457 feet.
"It doesn't count but for one," Drew said. "It would be nice
if you hit it off the scoreboard and you get two runs, but it
doesn't work that way."
Third baseman Scott Rolen dropped Abraham Nunez's foul pop near
the Pirates' dugout with two outs in the second, and Nunez
responded with an RBI double that tied it in the second. Catcher
Mike Matheny was unable to handle a short-hop relay from Renteria
that likely would have beaten the runner to the plate.
Pujols hit his 15th homer, and first since May 22, leading off
the fourth for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals cut the gap to a run in the eighth against three
Pirates relievers, including Pujols' RBI double off Brian
Boehringer. But Drew was caught at the plate trying to tie it on
the hit, and Renteria flied out to the right-field wall with the
bases loaded off Boehringer for the final out.
Giles cut the ball off before it could get to the wall in
left-center, setting up the play on Drew.
"It's just bang-bang," Drew said. "I watched it on tape and
it's almost if you don't slide you probably run through there safe
and if you do, you're out."
Mike Williams worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18
Edmonds was 0-for-2 with two walks, one of them
intentional. He wasn't in the original lineup card but was inserted
after taking batting practice and making throws without pain. ...
Aramis Ramirez singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to
a career-best 14 games. ... Joe Garagiola, with fellow Hall of
Famer Yogi Berra at his side, threw out the first pitch. The two
grew up on The Hill in St. Louis. ... The Pirates have won six of
their last eight on the road. ... The last Cardinals pitcher to
start 8-0 was Garrett Stephenson in 2000. ... Pujols made a nice
catch retreating to the wall in left on Craig Wilson's drive in the
eighth, recovering after getting turned around. ... The Cardinals
are 2-14 in one-run decisions.