laced Lincoln's next pitch into center field for a single, tying the contest at 3-3. Lincoln continued to struggle as he walked rookie
Lincoln looked to be out of the inning when
hit a bouncer in the hole between shortstop and third base. But third baseman
bobbled the ball and threw late to second, loading the bases.
The miscue by Hernandez brought the NL's leading hitter,
, to the plate and he ended the game by ripping a 1-1 pitch up the middle for a single. Pujols had two hits, raising his batting average to .377.
"I've just relaxed," Pujols said. "I knew I could do it because I was really relaxed out there. He threw me a couple of good curveballs that I didn't jump on, I stayed back. The third pitch I thought I could hit and that's what I did. It was a pretty good pitch and a really big win."
"This was a tough loss. I got banged around," Lincoln said. "I left the ball up some and they hit me around pretty good today. There's going to be ups and downs and it (stinks) to blow a two-run lead like I did."
"Mike has been pitching extremely well for us," McClendon said. "It's his first setback and he just has to bounce back. When you're in that situation, you have to have a short memory and you have got to be ready to go the next day. It's over with. Hopefully, if he's back out there tomorrow, he could close the deal for us."
St. Louis reliever
(4-4) pitched a perfect top of the ninth for the win.
Torres gave up just three singles through the first five innings, getting all his outs via ground ball or strikeout before
flied out to end the fifth.
Making his second start of the season, Fassero showed surprising velocity and retired the first nine batters.
was the Pirates' first runner when he walked to start the fourth but he was erased on a double play.
The Pirates finally broke through against Fassero in the sixth.
was hit with a pitch to start the inning and Torres sacrificed. After Kendall was retired, Nunez stole third and came home on
Fassero has been effective in his two starts, allowing three runs in 9 2/3 innings.
"Today was good for him by anyone's standards," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa
said. "But he was really good the other day in San Diego and carried it even longer. He made a lot of real good quality pitches and this is a tough lineup against lefthanded pitchers. He didn't make any mistakes today."
In the bottom of the inning, Nunez made a nice play from his shortstop position to preserve the lead. With runners on the corners and two outs, Rolen hit a grounder up the middle that Nunez ranged onto the outfield grass for before getting Rolen at first.
Nunez again factored in the scoring in the seventh, scoring Hernandez on a squeeze. Torres also helped his own cause with an RBI single, extending the lead to 3-0.
Torres reached when he hit a grounder to first baseman
, who was unable to beat him to the bag. Martinez tried flipping the ball to
but the Cardinals' pitcher collapsed to the ground. Painter was helped off the field with a severely strained left calf.
Palmeiro got the Cardinals on the board with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh.