Barring a long Cardinals’ losing streak and a long Astros winning streak simultaneously, St. Louis will not clinch the National League Central at home. In their final game before a 10-game road trip, the Cardinals lost to the Pirates 5-3 at Busch Stadium. Meanwhile the Astros topped the Marlins 10-2, as Roger Clemens earned his 12th win just hours after his mother’s death.
The Cardinals never led in the game, though that hasn’t really bothered them much lately. In their last two wins over the Pirates, they waited until the ninth inning to take the final lead and they had a chance to do it again. Down 4-1 in the seventh, St. Louis cut the Pittsburgh advantage to one run when Albert Pujols drove in John Rodriguez with a ground ball and John Gall moved Mark Grudzielanek home with a fly ball to left.
In the top of the ninth, the Pirates pushed their lead to 5-4 with Mark Redman’s RBI double.
St. Louis seemingly had the perfect opportunity for a quick end to the ball game. With runners at first and second with no outs, Albert Pujols came to the plate, but he grounded out to pitcher Salomon Torres. The grounder did move Rodriguez to third and Grudzielanek to second base, however they would stay there. Reggie Sanders struck out swinging and So Taguchi grounded to short to end the game
Jason Marquis (12-14) was charged with three runs and got the loss. Ryan Vogelsong (2-1) got the win in relief for the Pirates.
St. Louis’ magic number is remains at two. They face the Cubs in Chicago on Thursday night for the start of a four-game series. The Astros finish up their series with the Marlins, and then host the Brewers.