Cheap Seats

July 22: Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

I wish I could say that the Cardinals went into Pittsburgh and showed the upstart Pirates who's boss with an old fashioned behind the woodshed style thrashing.

But the truth is that the Birds bounced out to a four-run lead and managed to hang on for dear life to beat Pittsburgh 6-4 to pull into a virtual tie with the Bucs in the standings. Meanwhile Milwaukee won its game to move into first place by itself in the NL Central.

Albert Pujols and David Freese both hit two-run homers in the opening frame to give the Redbirds the early lead. But the Pirates scored a pair of runs when they collected four consecutive hits with two outs in the bottom of the second to cut the advantage in half.

In the top of the third Lance Berkman led off with a base hit only to be wiped out by a double play ball off the bat of Freese. Yadier Molina hit a two-out double and the Pirates intentionally walked Nick Punto to pitch to Carpenter -- and the Birds starter helped himself with an RBI single to make the score 5-2.

The Bucs had five consecutive hits in the fifth inning to score two more runs and it looked like Carpenter was on the ropes. But he got a ground ball to first to end the threat and managed to make it throught eight innings with 10 hits allowed -- nine of them in the two innings in which the Pirates scored. He gave up four earned runs and struck out four while walking one.

Carpenter's win was his fifth in a row to lift his record from 1-7 with a 4.27 ERA on June 23 to 6-7 with a 3.73 ERA a month later. He also had two hits in four at bats.

Yadier Molina hit his sixth homer of the season in the eighth inning to give the Redbirds an important insurance run and Fernando Salas allowed one hit but no runs in the ninth to get the save.

Cardinals Star of the game: Pujols managed to raise his .387 career batting average at PNC Park with four hits in five at bats. He scored a run and drove in two more to lift his season mark to .280.

Cardinals Play of the Game: Pujols' first inning homer.

Lowlight: Matt Holliday and Ryan Theriot continued their slumps, each turning in 0-for-5 nights at the plate.