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Cardinals at Pirates, Sept. 5

The good news, Mitchell Boggs, is that your assignment is to face a Class AAA quality Pittsburgh Pirates lineup.

The bad news is that Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday. Yadier Molina, Brendan Ryan and Mark DeRosa won't be joining you.

With an 11 1/2 game lead in the NL Central, manager Tony La Russa decided to give the majority of his starters the day off. Boggs did a great job of keeping the Bucs in check for seven innings, allowing only one run. But the Cardinas makeshift lineup could do no better, chalking up only a a single run -- and it was scored on a fielding error...

But Albert Pujols pinch hit in the 10th inning, facing Pirates closer Matt Capps. The last time the teams met, Capps plunked an obviously irritated Albert in the back. Maybe that's why the slugging Cardinals first baseman flipped his bat so emphatically when he clubbed a homerun over the centerfield fence to land the deciding blow in the Birds' 2-1 win.

blog post photo

Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols delivers a pinch hit homer in the 10th inning to lead St. Louis past the Pirates. AP photo.

It marked the 31st day in a row that the Cubs were unable to gain any ground on St. Louis. The Wee Bears beat the injury riddled Mets earlier in the day, but still saw the Cardinals magic number shrink to 16.

Cardinals Star of the Game: I wanted to give it to Boggs. But I just can't. Pujols had a small window of opportunity on what was supposed to be a day off and he won the game on a single swing of the bat. How can you not give the guy credit?

Lowlight: Troy Glaus and Rick Ankiel combined to go 0-for-8 with four strikeouts Saturday night.