ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A pair of rookies helped the St. Louis
Cardinals reduce their magic number to four for clinching the NL
Pinch-hitter John Rodriguez' ninth-inning single off Salomon
Torres scored Skip Schumacher in a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh
Pirates on Monday night.
"It's big," starter Mark Mulder said. "They're not just
getting called up and sitting there, they're getting put in
situations where they can succeed."
The Cardinals have two games left on a 10-game homestand, and
need a pair of victories and two losses by second-place Houston to
clinch at home. They start a four-game series in Chicago on
"It would be nice to do it in Chicago, too," Mulder said.
St. Louis was outhit 11-6 but improved to 11-3 this season
against the last-place Pirates. The Cardinals have won 18 of their
last 21 games overall against the Pirates.
"Did we have 11 hits?" Pittsburgh interim manager Pete
Mackanin said. "It seems to be a broken record but we did have
Schumacher doubled off Torres (4-5) to start the ninth and
advanced on a sacrifice. Abraham Nunez was intentionally walked,
and Rodriguez followed with a drive over left fielder Jason Bay,
who was playing in.
"You always have to be ready," Rodriguez said. "In a
situation like that, I'm ready from the fourth inning on."
Jason Isringhausen (1-1) worked a perfect ninth.
Ty Wigginton and Brad Eldred each had three hits and an RBI for
the Pirates, who have lost 14 of 17. Starter Mark Redman left after
five innings after breaking the tip of his left index finger
fouling off a bunt. He could miss the rest of the season.
"If it had to end, I'm glad it ended on a positive note," said
Redman, who is 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA. "My pitch was my curveball,
and I used it. It opened up a whole new game for me."
Albert Pujols' pinch-hit RBI single off Jose Mesa broke a 2-2
tie in the seventh, the Pirates' sixth blown save in 14 games.
Pujols, whose hit followed a sacrifice fly by Hector Luna, did not
start because of a sore upper right leg.
The Pirates tied it in the eighth with the help of a
questionable decision by reliever Ray King. With runners on first
and third and none out, King fielded Rob Mackowiak's comebacker and
had an easy play at the plate but threw to first instead. Wigginton
crossed the plate well ahead of the relay.
Pittsburgh scored only two runs off Mulder the first four
innings despite accumulating seven hits, two hit batters and a
walk, with the 6-7-8 batters going 5-for-5 with two RBI. Mulder
gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings.
"Hung in there?" manager Tony La Russa said. "You don't just
hang in there when you limit them to two runs with all those
opportunities. When he had guys on base, he was outstanding."
Redman, winless in nine starts since July 24, allowed one run
and two hits in five innings, with Wigginton and Mackowiak driving
in a run apiece. Redman threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the
St. Louis shortstop David Eckstein saved a run with perhaps his
best throw of the season, a relay to the plate that cut down
Wigginton trying to score from first on Eldred's double with no
outs in the fourth. Wigginton barreled into catcher Yadier Molina
in an unsuccessful attempt to jar the ball loose.
Right fielder So Taguchi made a sliding catch to rob Wigginton
and end the fifth.
"We saved runs all night long," La Russa said. "That's the
way you had to win that game because they had so many
Mulder has no sacrifice bunts, failing to execute twice
Monday. The rest of the rotation has 23. ... Pitcher Kip Wells
grounded out as a pinch hitter for Redman in the fifth. The Pirates
have 27 active players, only two above the pre-Sept. 1 limit,
because Triple-A Indianapolis is in the International League
championship series. ... The Pirates have scored first in 17 of
their last 19 road games, going 9-8. ... The Cardinals' run of 17
straight sellouts ended with paid attendance of 40,064. ... Pirates
CF Nate McLouth left with a bruised right elbow after four innings.