The Pittsburgh Pirates ' three-game NL Central lead over the St. Louis Cardinals can partially be attributed to their play against their division rival.
Now it's the Cardinals who feel like they have something to prove against the upstart Pirates.
St. Louis has juggled its rotation so Adam Wainwright can start Tuesday night's opener of this much-anticipated three-game series opposite Charlie Morton , who has lost five straight to the Cardinals.
Pittsburgh (70-47) heads to Busch Stadium with a 7-3 record against St. Louis (67-50), winning four of five at home July 29-Aug. 1 to take over the Central lead.
St. Louis was outscored 22-7 in the first four games of that set before salvaging a 13-0 victory in the finale to snap a season-high seven-game losing streak.
"I know our guys are looking forward to playing them again," manager Mike Matheny said. "We're anxious about it. There's a little added excitement with them coming in town and something to prove. We're a better team than we showed in Pittsburgh."
Matheny mandated a day away from the park on Monday's off day with his club a loser of 13 of 18.
"We're locking the clubhouse doors just in case anybody has a stupid idea," he said.
The Cardinals have dropped three straight starts by Wainwright (13-7, 2.66 ERA), who allowed four runs in seven innings and did not get a decision in a 5-4 loss at Pittsburgh on July 31. He's 0-2 with a 4.29 ERA during that span, and will have three extra days of rest since pitching last Monday against the Dodgers.
The right-hander, second in the majors with 175 2-3 innings pitched, is 9-6 with a 2.93 ERA in 17 career starts with at least six days off.
"I'm always excited to take the ball," Wainwright told the Cardinals' official website. "That's why we work hard in between starts."
Wainwright's 5.19 ERA against Pittsburgh is his second-highest against any NL club.
McCutchen has 14 hits in his last 27 at-bats and Walker is hitting .364 in his last 15 games for Pittsburgh, which was swept in a weekend three-game set at Colorado that came on the heels of a 9-2 homestand.
The Pirates also had Monday off and are eager to move on to St. Louis, where they took two of three April 26-28.
"We're going to go in there, it's going to be packed, it's going to be exciting," manager Clint Hurdle told the Pirates' official website.
Morton (4-3, 3.88) is 0-5 with a 6.41 ERA in his last five starts against the Cardinals, surrendering five runs in six innings in the Aug. 1 defeat. He's 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in five outings at St Louis.
Pittsburgh has won all four of his other starts over the past five weeks as Morton has gone 3-0 with a 3.50 ERA. He beat Miami on Wednesday with seven strong innings in a 4-2 win.
Holliday is hitting .436 with 12 RBIs in his past 15 games, going 10 for 23 in the last series against Pittsburgh.
Beltran left Sunday's 8-4 victory over the Cubs after fouling a ball off his right foot, but is in the lineup for the opener.
|August 11, 2013||Starling Marte||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hand|
|July 28, 2013||Travis Snider||15-Day DL||Left big toe discomfort|
|July 28, 2013||Michael McKenry||15-Day DL||Left knee surgery - out for season|
|July 23, 2013||Jason Grilli||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|August 11, 2013||Carlos Beltran||Day-to-Day||Right foot contusion|
|August 07, 2013||Shelby Miller||Day-to-Day||Right elbow contusion|
|July 31, 2013||Shane Robinson||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|July 31, 2013||Yadier Molina||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|July 30, 2013||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Strained right knee|
|July 12, 2013||Matt Holliday||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Both teams all but cleared their benches trying to end it. One of the St. Louis Cardinals' substitutes finally came through.
Adron Chambers singled home the winning run in the 14th inning for his first RBI of the season, and the Cardinals outlasted the Pittsburgh Pirates and cut into their NL Central lead with a 4-3 victory on Tuesday night.
"Oh man, that was amazing," Chambers said. "If any one of these guys got that, they'd be jumping for joy just like I am inside."
Sam Freeman (1-0) allowed a walk in a scoreless 14th for the Cardinals, who saddled the Pirates with their fourth straight loss and pulled within two games of them with a win in the 4-hour, 55-minute game.
"We had a lot of guys step up," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "That was a big, big win. It was one of those ones you just felt you had to win somehow."
Pittsburgh had four hits the first time through the order against Adam Wainwright and led 3-0 after two innings on homers by Andrew McCutchen and Jordy Mercer . They had six hits the rest of the way and couldn't quite recover from left fielder Starling Marte 's dropped fly ball in the ninth.
"He's probably not in a good place right now," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's some hard lessons learned up here from time to time."
Hurdle didn't want to put it all on Marte.
"We got nicked for a run. We had to play five more after that," Hurdle said. "We threw everything out there, they threw everything out there.
"We let one probably get away from us."
Both teams had chances in extra innings before the Cardinals, who had dropped four of five, cashed in.
Jon Jay singled off Jared Hughes (2-3) with one out in the 14th with his fourth hit. Jay stole second and then raced home and barely eluded the tag on Marte's relay to the plate.
Hughes was the Pirates' seventh pitcher. The Cardinals used six.
"If you were to know the outcome of the game, you'd prefer to save your arms in the bullpen," Pirates starter Charlie Morton said. "They've been so good. You just hope to not put too much of a load on them."
The Pirates loaded the bases with one out in the 13th before Seth Maness got Josh Harrison to ground into a double play.
Pittsburgh got two key outs in extra innings by forcing Maness to bat. Right fielder Josh Wilson was moved into a five-man infield before participating in a rare 6-9-3 double play to end the 11th.
Jeanmar Gomez finished his third scoreless inning by striking out Maness with the bases loaded in the 13th.
Maness was inserted into the cleanup spot following a double switch, replacing Matt Holliday , who slipped returning from a secondary lead and injured an ankle. X-rays were negative.
"I obviously need a little help up there," Maness said. "I'll be a little more prepared next time."
The Cardinals forced extra innings and gave Mark Melancon a blown save, aided by Marte, who dropped Daniel Descalso 's routine fly ball for a two-base error with one out in the ninth. Descalso scored the tying run on Allen Craig 's single.
Wainwright was the first National League pitcher to 13 wins but is 0-2 in four starts since then. He has worked seven innings in all of them although he needed 122 pitches against the Pirates.
He allowed three runs and five hits with six strikeouts and a season-high three walks.
Jay had three hits and an RBI for the Cardinals, who have been offensively challenged while going 2-5 on a 10-game homestand entering the Pirates series.
David Freese is 2 for 13 with the bases loaded after shattering his bat grounding into a double play that got the Cardinals on the board in the sixth. Morton threw one pitch behind Freese not long after getting a visit from pitching coach Ray Searage .
The Pirates' defense was perfectly placed behind reliever Bryan Morris for pinch-hitter Matt Adams ' lineout to second baseman Neil Walker in shallow right field with two on to end the eighth.
Wainwright got three extra days' rest after lacking a put-away pitch in recent efforts. He still had to fight for outs, needing 33 pitches to get out of the first, although the Pirates had just two hits off him after Mercer's homer in the second.
Andrew Lambo was 0-3 with a pair of groundouts and a strikeout in his major league debut for the Pirates. He got the start after Jose Tabata was scratched with flu-like symptoms. Lambo has hit 31 homers at Double-A and Triple-A this year, tied for the most in the minors.
Morton allowed two runs in six innings against a team that has punished him. He entered 2-6 with a 6.30 ERA against St. Louis and has lost five consecutive decisions.
Notes: Cardinals C Yadier Molina took part in most field activities for the second day and plans on playing Thursday, the first day he is eligible to come off the DL from a right knee injury. St. Louis was 5-7 the first 12 games without Molina, who told reporters it has been tough watching. ... Wednesday's starters Francisco Liriano (12-5, 2.83) and St. Louis rookie Shelby Miller (11-7, 2.89) are both among the NL ERA leaders. Miller lasted just two pitches in his last outing when he was drilled on his pitching elbow on a liner by the Dodgers' Carl Crawford , but escaped with a bruise. ... Marte was hit by a pitch for the 20th time this season, when he led off the fifth. Before the game, Hurdle referred to Marte as a "Pinata."