Cardinals Batter Pirates Pitchers to Win Third Straight
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Lance Berkman and Yadier Molina homered during St. Louis' five-run fifth inning, Jaime Garcia won his 10th game and the Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second consecutive night, 9-1 on Saturday night.
A day after hitting three homers in a 15-hit barrage, St. Louis won its third straight by collecting 12 hits in assuring itself a win in what many in Pittsburgh were calling the biggest series in PNC Park's 11-year history.
Surprising Pittsburgh -- without a winning season since 1992 but in first place for four of the seven days leading up to this series -- lost its third consecutive game. The Pirates dropped into third place behind the Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals in the National League Central.
Matt Diaz and Chase D'Arnaud each had two hits for the suddenly punchless Pirates, who have scored nine runs in their past five games.
For the second straight day, Pittsburgh bombed in front of a sellout crowd in a performance that had to remind the 39,102 of many of the previous 85 games between the teams at this ballpark -- the Cardinals are now 56-30 here.
But the Pirates had ascended to first place this late in a season for the first time in 19 years mainly by dominating the division, going 24-14 against the NL Central heading into the series.
The Cardinals, however, have won this division more than anyone, and they used a familiar combination of quality starting pitching and power to expose some of the first signs the Pirates' season-long feel-good story is unraveling.
Garcia (10-4) won for the fourth time in his past five outings, allowing one run on eight hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. He's allowed five earned runs over his past four starts.
Kevin Correia (11-8) failed for the third consecutive attempt to become the first Pittsburgh starter since 2007 to earn his 12th win. He had already given up RBI singles by Molina and Daniel Descalso in the second before allowing five runs on five hits in not getting out of the fifth inning for the second time in his past three starts.
Skip Schumaker, Jon Jay and Albert Pujols opened the inning with consecutive singles. After Matt Holliday struck out, Berkman took a first-pitch slider into the shrubbery beyond the center-field wall for his NL-leading 27th homer.
It was the fourth homer by the Cardinals in 14 innings during the series, and each came on the first pitch.
Two batters after Berkman, Molina waited until the sixth pitch to pull a high fly down the left-field line that clanged off the foul pole for his second homer in as many nights and seventh of the season.
That ended the evening for Correia, who was charged with seven runs on eight hits and three walks.
Each of the Cardinals' starting eight had at least a hit and a run or RBI, with Schumaker, Molina, Descalso and David Freese each collecting two hits.