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Game 22: Cardinals 9, Pirates 1

The legacy of some games is simply a win or a loss in the standings.

But the Cardinals' 9-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates made a stronger statement.

The Pirates, who strutted into town with a winning record, are determined to prove that they're not the same team that has notched a sub-.500 win/loss mark over the last two decades. They came to town not to fulfill a scheduled obligation. They're pretty determined to win a few ballgames and try to make the playoffs.

So it was up to the Redbirds to show that they're still a force to reckon with in the National League Central Division. And, not only did they keep their composure in the face of stiffer competition -- they kept it in the face of the Pirates puffing out their chest and throwing at St. Louis hitters in the batters box.

The Cardinals scored a pair of runs in the first inning when the first two batters, Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran, each belted a solo homer. Matt Holliday followed with a line drive single up the middle. Apparently Pittsburgh starter Jonathan Sanchez (who is 0-3 with a 12.71 ERA and an average of more than 2.5 base runners allowed per inning he hurls) decided to take out his frustrations on Birds clean-up man Allen Craig with a high and tight fastball that hit him in his shoulder just below the head.

The attack was so obvious that the home plate umpire immediately ejected Sanchez without a warning.

The Cardinals didn't allow the bluster to shake them up. Instead, starting pitcher Lance Lynn settled in to throw seven innings of two-hit ball with one run allowed. He struck out nine and walked three as he improved his record to 4-0 with a 3.10 ERA while his club added a run in the third and two more in the fifth when Beltran homered for the second time of the night to stretch the advantage to 5-1.

Pittsburgh was able to mount only one serious threat and that's when Mitchell Boggs came into the game in the top of the eighth inning and allowed a scratch single, hit a batter with a pitch and issued a walk to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. Lefty Randy Choate came in to bail out Boggs and got a double play grounder to beat back the Buccos' only uprising.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Beltran

Cardinals Play of the Game: Choate's double play

Lowlight: The Pirates' game of dirty pool. In addition to the dangerous attack on Craig, the Pirates threw at Yadier Molina later in the game when he attempted to bunt. Their starter, their manager and their third base coach all were ejected over the course of the game.