Cheap Seats

Aug. 15: Pirates 6, Cardinals 2

The Pirates lost 11 games in a row before the Cardinals came to town desperately needing a sweep to keep pace with Milwaukee, which took six of those wins against Pittsburgh.

And, naturally, the Redbirds made a team that looked like it might not win another game this season turn into the '27 Yankees, losing convincingly by a 6-2 margin.

The game was full of Cardinals batters hitting into double plays or otherwise failing to take advantage of having runners on base and Cardinals pitchers giving up long hits at the worst possible times. They're now six games out of first with six weeks to go in the season. While it's not at all mathematically impossible for the Redbirds to make up a six-game deficit in the standings, this team has done absolutely nothing to show that it's capable of putting together a run.

Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook ought to be ashamed to collect his ridiculous pay check. He gave up five runs on nine hits over 5 1/2 innings. But I suppose we ought to be grateful he made it that far into the game after his 31-pitch first inning.

I really hoped Dave Duncan saw something I didn't (which was entirely possible) when the Birds decided to give Westbrook a two-year, $20-million deal. But if he did, it's long ago disappeared and Westbrook seems to be a fifth starter somehow making top of the rotation money. If only the Cardinals could pawn him off on someone they could bring back Carp next season and have Wainwright, Garcia, Lohse and McClellan round out a cheaper and more effective rotation.

Of course, that does little to address the issue of the St. Louis offense, which largely seems to be Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and a collection of stiffs who never heard about advancing runners or making an effort not to strike out with a guy on third and less than two outs. How about hitting the ball anyplace besides shortstop with a man on first base? Anyone?

Ryan Theriot did manage to collect three hits, coming off the bench to play second base. But he scored only once and didn't drive any runs.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Theriot? I don't know. Who cares?

Cardinals Play of the Game: Rafael Furcal's third inning RBI double that made it seem, at least for a while, that the Cardinals planned to try to win the game.

Lowlight: The fact that the Cardinals are on the hook for an other entire season of Jake Westbrook.