PITTSBURGH (Ticker) --
wasted little time in extending his hitting streak as the St. Louis Cardinals built an early held and held on for a 4-3 win over the
Pujols lined a single into right field with two outs in the first inning to extend his streak to 28 games, the longest by a member of the Cardinals since
hit in 29 straight contests in 1959.
followed with a walk and
delivered an RBI single to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Pujols struck out in his next two at-bats and grounded out in the seventh, marking the first time in five games that he did not hit a home run. The All-Star left fielder is hitting .378 (42-for-111) during his streak.
St. Louis won for the fifth time in six games and moved into a tie for the lead in the National League Central with the
(7-11) was staked to a three-run lead and won for the third time in his last four starts. He went eight innings, allowing one run and five hits with three strikeouts.
"I was really impressed, Stephenson was really good today," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa
said. "I was impressed with his location, wherever (Chris) Widger put he glove down, Stephenson missed it maybe only three or four times. He's exactly what we needed.
"We didn't exactly touch (Jeff) D'Amico up or anything. We got some two-out singles on him. We played all four games really hard, the way Pittsburgh battled, it's good to get three wins because they made us earn every one of them."
Stephenson improved to 6-2 lifetime against the Pirates. He went 0-1 in consecutive starts against Pittsburgh in May, allowing 10 runs and 15 hits in 12 innings.
"I went out and threw strikes," Stephenson said. "The defense took care of the rest, even your good pitches get hit sometimes. We scored enough runs to win the game. My ball was down in the strike zone, more today than the last time I was here. My mechanics felt good, it balances out, that's why you have 30 some starts."
"The last time we faced Stephenson, he threw a lot more changeups," Pirates second baseman
said. "Today he threw his fastball, but not over the middle of the plate. He was letting the defense do the job. (My) First two at-bats I was looking for a changeup and I never saw one."
The Cardinals are 7-2 in Widger's last nine starts.
"I don't know why, maybe the pitchers and I have been working together good," Widger said about that record. "Whatever the reason, you don't care who is catching. Who's catching, who's playing, we need to go out and win the games we're playing. As a backup catcher my job is to go give Mike (Matheny) a rest and do the job."
D'Amico (7-12) was reached for four runs and 10 hits in six innings and became the fifth 12-game loser in the National League.
Widger had a one-out single in the second inning and was sacrificed to second before rookie
had an RBI single to double St. Louis' lead.
singled to start the fourth and Pirates manager
was ejected after he argued that
attempted to bunt D'Amico's first pitch. McClendon was ejected before he left the dugout and continued to argue with playe umpire Eric Cooper and third base umpire Mike Reilly.
"I absolutely didn't say enough to warrant getting thrown out of this game," McClendon said. "All I said was that he bunted through it. (It's) Not that hard of a call and he threw me out. I'm sure the report that goes in will be written up differently than what really happened. I'm sure they'll say I cussed them and everything else. That's what (ticks) me off, all they do is take the other guy's word. It happens quite a bit."
After McClendon was ejected, Renteria singled to left. D'Amico induced Widger to ground into a double play, but Stephenson had an RBI single to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
St. Louis regained a three-run lead when Martinez led off the sixth and hit D'Amico's 0-1 pitch over the right field fence for his 12th homer.
Pittsburgh could not get another runner past second base until Simon's two-out single in the ninth put runners on the corners. Simon took second base without a throw from Widger and Hernandez lined a 1-2 pitch into right to plate both runners.