ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Cardinals pitcher Braden Looper was on the field more than he expected Sunday -- the price of getting two hits on a hot day.
Looper continued his torrid hitting to help earn himself a win in the Cardinals' 7-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had two singles, scored twice, and drove in a run to raise his batting average to .429 -- tops among pitchers in the majors. On the mound, Looper (7-4) allowed eights hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings."That's really icing on the cake for me," Looper said about his hitting. "It's not like going up there planning on that. I just trying to put the bat on the ball. I don't have much of a game plan."But you know, it was pretty hot out there today and to be on the bases twice running around like that, I had to really concentrate in that last innings. I was drinking as much Gatorade as I could."Ryan Franklin, the fifth Cardinals pitcher, got three outs for his sixth save in eight attempts. Franklin made it exciting as he gave up a single and double with two outs before retiring Doug Mientkiewicz on a fly to left.Skip Schumaker drove in a career-high three runs to help the Cardinals.Ian Snell (2-5) lost his fifth consecutive decision and is 0-5 in his last nine starts. His last win came on April 12. Snell pitched to one batter in the fifth before being lifted. He allowed six runs and eight hits.Looper got some defensive help from Rick Ankiel. The center fielder made a highlight-reel catch when he turned his back to home and drove headfirst at the warning track to catch a deep fly hit by Xavier Nady in the second."That play obviously was huge," Looper said. "I knew it was a great catch because the ball was scorched."St. Louis manager Tony La Russa agreed."It was probably the best play of the year for us," La Russa said. "Ankiel set the tempo. Our defense had a huge day."The Cardinals broke the game open in the second inning when they scored five runs off Snell."They got a five-run inning and they didn't get the ball past the outfield," Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. "You take away that five-run inning and it's a totally different game."With the bases loaded, Adam Kennedy singled up the middle to score Troy Glaus, who led off with a single. Looper followed with an RBI single."It was a slider and normally I can't hit sliders very well," Looper said. "It's one of those things."Yadier Molina, who singled, scored on a fielder's choice. Schumaker ended the scoring with a two-run single to left field."They didn't hit the ball hard, they just got it through, Snell said. "I was frustrated but I didn't want to show it. I coldn't get an out."St. Louis made it 6-1 in the fourth on an RBI double by Schumaker.Pittsburgh scored in the second on an RBI single by Jose Bautista and in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Freddy Sanchez.The Pirates loaded the bases with two outs on two singles and a walk to chase Looper in the sixth. Reliver Kyle McClelland hit Nate McLouth before ending the inning on a ground out by Luis Rivas. McLouth also was hit by Looper to lead off the game.A one-out homer by Troy Glaus gave St. Louis a 7-3 lead in the seventh. Glaus also made a nifty backhanded grab of a hard-hit ball by Nady to end the seventh."You can't win without guys making plays," Looper said. "We have a good defensive club."Pittsburgh scored its final run in the eighth on an RBI double by Bautista.The game was delayed 13 minutes in the fifth when an electric advertising board malfunction located in the batter's eye in center wouldn't close.
Pittsburgh was 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position. ... La Russa was honored before the game. On Saturday, he passes Red Schoendienst with his 2,000th game as the St. Louis manager, passing Schoendienst for the franchise's top spot. He was given a check for $20,000 for his Animal Rescue Foundation. ... Pittsburgh shortstop Jack Wilson was a late scratch. He has a sore left calf. "It was more of a precautionary today," Russell said about Wilson. "Hopefully, he'll be ready tomorrow."