Benson, two relievers limit Cards to one hit


ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Pirates got tired of being pushed around by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Kris Benson allowed one hit in seven innings and the Pirates, who had lost six straight to St. Louis, homered a season-best five times in an 8-0 victory on Tuesday night. They'd been outscored 52-25 in the six games.

Brian Giles, Craig Wilson, Adam Hyzdu, Aramis Ramirez and Rob Mackowiak homered and Jason Kendall had a three-run double for the Pirates, who have won only four of their last 14.

"They thumped us at home,'' Hyzdu said. "It's tough to get waxed four days in a row, so it's definitely nice to flip the coin once in a while.''

Kerry Robinson got the lone hit for the Cardinals, a blooper to left-center with one out in the first. The NL Central leaders have won nine of last 11, and had outscored their opponents 21-4 the previous four games.

"I think it's a case where they did everything better than we did and you tip your cap,'' manager Tony La Russa said. "You pick out phases of the game and they were better. When that happens, it's not much of a game.''

The only other baserunner allowed by Benson (5-6) was a one-out
walk to Scott Rolen in the second. After that he retired the last 17 batters he faced.

"Even if you throw a no-hitter, it seems like guys always break
it up with a little bleeder,'' Benson said. "So you give up one
hit and it's like that, but I'll definitely take it.''

Benson, who struck out four and walked one, has a 1.14 ERA in
his victories and a 14.48 ERA in his losses. He had been 1-2 with a
6.75 ERA in his previous five outings, but said his stuff compared
favorably to his last outing, also against St. Louis, when he allowed five runs on nine hits in six innings and got no decision in an 11-5 loss.

"It's really no different from the last game, but the last game they hit a lot of balls that fell in front of the outfielders, and three balls that squeaked through the infield,'' Benson said. "Today they hit a few balls right at the outfielders.''

Brian Boehringer worked the eighth and Al Reyes pitched the ninth, completing the Pirates' first combined one-hitter since Benson worked eight innings and Josias Manzanillo pitched the ninth at home against the Giants on Aug. 29, 2000.

The Cardinals didn't get a runner past first base until Eduardo Perez reached on third baseman Ramirez' two-base throwing error with one out in the ninth.

Cardinals starter Luther Hackman (3-4), who had allowed only two
homers in 57 2/3 innings, allowed three of the long balls. Making
his fourth start, the converted reliever lasted four innings,
giving up six runs -- five earned -- on six hits.

"The first inning I was really impressed, but then after that in the second inning he threw two first pitches out of the park,'' La Russa said. "We made three mistakes in the third inning and with the way Benson was pitching we couldn't afford them.''

Giles, making his first start in four games due to a strained
calf, and Wilson connected in the second with the bases empty for a
2-0 lead. Kendall's double made it 5-0 in the third and Hyzdu
homered off the foul pole in left to make it 6-0 in the fourth.

Ramirez and Mackowiak hit back-to-back homers off Mike Matthews
in the eighth. But Giles' 30th homer got them started.

"Having Brian back in the lineup after three days and for him
to hit a home run right off the bat certainly kind of rejuvenated our kids a little bit,'' manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We seemed to take off from there.''

Albert Pujols was 0-for-3 for the Cardinals, ending a 10-game
hitting streak in which he had homered five times - four against
the Pirates -- with 17 RBI. He was removed in a double switch in
the eighth.

Game notes
The Pirates' last five-homer game was July 4, 2001, at
Cincinnati. The franchise record is seven, Aug. 16, 1947 at home
against the Cardinals. ... Ramirez, who went 2-for-4, entered the
game in a 3-for-21 slump. ... The Pirates are 6-9 against the
Cardinals this year after going 3-14 last season. ... The Cardinals
totaled 37 runs in a four-game sweep at Pittsburgh last week and
won 7-2 in the series opener Monday. ... Cardinals 3B Scott Rolen,
who missed the previous two games with a sore throwing shoulder,
was 0-for-2 with a walk. He also made his 13th error and third in
19 games with St. Louis when he dropped a throw on a forceout in
the third.