It doesn’t happen often, in fact it hasn’t happened in quite some time, but luckily for the Cardinals a less-than-perfect outing by Chris Carpenter didn’t mean a loss. Carpenter, who has won his last 13 decisions, blew a four-run lead and failed to get his 21st win, but David Eckstein’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth, gave the Cardinals a 5-4 win over the Pirates.
With two outs in the ninth inning, Hector Luna started the game-winning rally with a single, and then stole second base. John Rodriguez, who drove won Tuesday’s game with an RBI single in the ninth, was intentionally walked. Eckstein stepped to the plate and singled in Luna to break a 4-4 tie and end the game.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when Jim Edmonds hit his 27th home run of the season. Then in the second, Yadier Molina hit a solo homer, his eighth of the season. Later in the inning Luna scored on a fielding error and the Cardinals led 4-0.
Carpenter was cruising along with a 4-1 lead until the Pirates scored three runs in the seventh inning. Two of those runs were on Carpenter’s watch, thanks to the five hits he allowed in the inning. Ty Wiggington and Jason Bay both hit RBI singles off Carpenter—Bay’s hit forced Carpenter out of the game. Tyler Johnson relieved Carpenter and promptly allowed the third run of the inning when Jack Wilson followed suit with an RBI single of his own to score Freddy Sanchez, who got on with a hit earlier in the inning.
Brad Thompson pitched the final two innings of the game, and gave up just one hit to improve to 3-0 on the season.
Carpenter lasted 6 1/3 innings, which is his shortest outing since June 8—that was the last time he lost.
St. Louis’ magic number to clinch the National League Central is down to two games. The Cardinals can clinch Wednesday if they beat the Pirates and the Astros lose again to the Marlins.