If not for an offense that refused to give up, the Cardinals 9-7 loss to the Pirates could’ve been worse.

Four players had multi-hit games for a Pittsburgh offense that racked up 14 hits against four Cardinal pitchers. Craig Wilson went 2-for-3 and has been mentioned in trade talks going to St. Louis. Winning pitcher Zach Duke surrendered five runs on 10 hits in five innings. He got most of those back at the plate going 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

Cardinal’s starter Sidney Ponson (4-2) dropped his second straight decision. He was given a one run lead in the first inning and got ahead of most batters but Pittsburgh was just too hot totaling six runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings against Ponson. The right hander wasn’t as effective at the plate as his counterpart, but he did walk once.

Reliever Brad Thompson didn’t help the situation replacing Ponson. Thompson allowed three runs on five hits in only 1.2 innings. It was a three-run home run that he gave up to Jose Castillo in the fifth that proved to be the difference.

Scott Rolen continued to hit well in the absence injured Albert Pujols. The third baseman had three hits and three RBIs in the game including a two-run homer in the ninth. He leads the National League with a .358 batting average.

Juan Encarnacion, 3-for-5, gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first with a single to center that scored Rolen.

The Pirates took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the second before St. Louis took another lead in the third. Rolen’s RBI single scored David Eckstein. Encarnacion added to his RBI total again with an RBI double to left scoring So Taguchi. After Rolen scored to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead, Hector Luna capped the inning with a single to center that plated Encarnacion.

St. Louis drops to 38-26 but still have a two game lead over the Reds in the National League Central.