The Cardinals in the first inning Saturday night looked like they were going to walk all over the Pirates and freshly activated starter A.J. Burnett.
They loaded the bases with no one out and it appeared that Burnett might not make it out of the first inning. But then Carlos Beltran struck out. David Freese struck out and Yadi Molina scorched a line drive -- right to shortstop to end the threat.
Pittsburgh went on to score two runs. And that was all it took. Burnett recovered to allow only three hits and two walks in seven innings of work while he struck out seven Cardinals.
The Redbirds had a second chance in the eighth inning when they got two men on without an out. Manager Mike Matheny questionably had Rafael Furcal, who entered the game with an average over .350 was sent to the plate to bunt runners to second and third. He succeeded -- and then the Pirates summoned their only lefty reliever from the bullpen to face rookie Matt Carpenter. He struck out helplessly?
Never miss a local story.
Why not go with the hot hand instead of putting all the pressure on the kid? Furcal could have easily hit a game-tying double and it wouldn't have been the most unusual thing to ever happen if he cracked a homer. Matheny painted himself into a corner on this occasion thanks to a short bench. And Matt Holliday was unable to bail him out when he also struck out weakly to end the inning.
The Cardinals got yet another chance in the ninth when two men reached by walks with one out. But rookie Erik Komatsu struck out and Shane Robinson grounded out on a hard hit ball to third to end the game.
Jake Westrbook pitched well enough to get a win on most nights with two runs allowed on seven hits and two walks over 6 2/3 innings.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Matt Carpenter collected two of the Cardinals five hits. But he struck out with men on second and third in the eighth inning. He had good stuff as he struck out six.
Cardinals Play of the Game: The Birds managed to turn a 6-4-3 double play. That was about it for highlight reel material.
Lowlight:Matt Holliday, Beltran, Freese and Molina combined to go hitless in the game.