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Cards leapfrog Bucs on Vina's ninth-inning double

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Fernando Vina waited patiently while Pittsburgh closer Mike Williams worried about the runners on base.

When Williams finally threw a pitch, Vina was ready. Vina doubled in two runs with one out in the ninth inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-4 victory over the Pirates on Thursday night.

"I don't like to wait like that, I would rather he just threw the ball,'' Vina said.

With runners at first and third and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Williams (1-5) faked a throw to third several times while working the count to 3-1 on Vina. The crowd booed and yelled "balk'' every time Williams tried the maneuver and Vina stepped out of the box several times.

Vina lined a double inside the first-base bag to score the tying and winning runs.

"Williams is one of the best closers in the league and I just
had to wait for him to come to me,'' Vina said. "I'd rather just
get right to it, to be honest with you, but that's the way the game
went and I was just trying to get the bat on the ball when it got
there.''

With the Cardinals down 4-2, Tino Martinez led off the ninth
with a double off Williams, and scored on Edgar Renteria's single.
One out later, Renteria advanced to third on pinch-hitter Miguel
Cairo's single.

Vina followed with the double to right to end Williams' streak
of 16 straight converted saves.

"He's had a great year and this is a tough loss for everybody in here,'' Pittsburgh's Pokey Reese said.

The Cardinals remained five games ahead of second-place Houston
in the NL Central.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said the team got a lift from beating one of the league's best closers for their 34th come-from-behind win this season.

"Vina had a great at-bat and he beat a guy who is as good as
anybody in the big leagues,'' La Russa said.

Williams said the hits by Martinez and Cairo were the keys to
the loss.

"The pitches to those two guys were really poor and that's what
beat me,'' he said. "My stuff just wasn't any good tonight.''

Gabe Molina (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the victory,
the Cardinals' 12th in their last 15 and third in the four-game
series with the Pirates.

Brian Giles hit his 32nd homer and Aramis Ramirez also homered
for Pittsburgh, which has lost 10 of its last 13.

Pittsburgh took a 3-2 lead with a two-run seventh, and Ramirez's
homer made it 4-2 in the eighth.

Cardinals starter Jason Simontacchi allowed three runs on three
hits in 6 1/3 innings, and Pittsburgh's Brian Meadows gave up two
runs on five hits in six innings.

Giles opened the scoring with a leadoff homer in the second
inning, his sixth against St. Louis this year and 17th against the
Cardinals in four seasons with the Pirates.

The Cardinals made it 2-1 in the bottom of the inning on
Martinez's two-run homer, his 15th of the season.

Game notes
The Pirates last 10 home runs have been solo shots. ...
Reese, 8-for-8 in stolen bases this year and 15-for-15 dating to
July 25, 2001, was picked off first base by Simontacchi after
walking in the third. ... Pittsburgh's Jack Wilson is 0-for-14 in
his last four games. ... St. Louis' J.D. Drew has not homered since
July 25 and has not had an extra-base hit since July 28.