28 and counting
Pujols extends streak as Cardinals drop Pirates 4-3Posted: Thursday August 14, 2003 4:14 PM
Updated: Thursday August 14, 2003 7:15 PM
Albert Pujols singled in the first to set up the Cardinals' first run and extend the majors' longest hitting streak this season to 28 games. St. Louis took three of four in the series and went 5-2 in Pittsburgh this season.
Albert Pujols singled in the first to set up the Cardinals' first run and extend the majors' longest hitting streak this season to 28 games. All but one of the Cardinals' 11 hits was a single -- Martinez led off the sixth with his 12th homer -- as they won their fifth in six games and sixth in eight games.
St. Louis took three of four in the series to tie Houston for the NL Central lead. The Astros lost 7-1 to the Cubs, who closed to within a half-game of first in the majors' most crowded division race.
Stephenson (7-11) allowed just one run for the third time in four starts. He beat the Expos 2-1 with a complete game on July 29 and the Braves 3-1 on Saturday, when he lasted seven innings.
"He didn't throw the ball hard but he really pitched smart," the Pirates' Jose Hernandez said. "He kept going in and out, getting guys out with his changeup. He certainly didn't overpower anybody, but he shut us down for the most part."
It's a big turnaround from a month ago when, with Stephenson coming off a stretch of five consecutive losses that dropped his record to 4-10, he was temporarily sent to the bullpen against his wishes.
Stephenson is pitching again like he did in 2000, when he was 16-9. Good thing for the Cardinals, too, because he's given them a big lift with Morris (8-6) out since July 22 with a broken bone in his right hand.
Morris threw in the bullpen Thursday and could start as early as Sunday in Philadelphia.
So much for the theory the Cardinals would begin to fade without Morris, their one starting pitcher who has pitched consistently well all season.
"I've said from Day 1 we had a good pitching staff and I still believe that," Stephenson said. "We've got a good team behind us ... I think we're real close to it (getting on a roll)."
Stephenson retired the first 12 batters until Matt Stairs doubled leading off the fifth and came home on Hernandez's one-out sacrifice fly. Hernandez drove in all three Pirates runs, adding a two-run double against Jason Isringhausen, who pitched the ninth.
With the potential tying run on second, Isringhausen got Abraham Nunez to ground out to end the game and secure his 13th save in 14 opportunities.
Scott Rolen's single drove in Pujols to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the first against Jeff D'Amico (7-12), who yielded 10 hits and four runs in six innings. Bo Hart had a run-scoring single in the second and Stephenson drove in his second run of the season with a two-out single in the fourth.
Pujols' streak is the longest in the majors this season and the Cardinals' longest since Ken Boyer's 29-game streak in 1959.
Martinez's homer was his second in three games after he went five weeks without homering following a July 4 shot off the Cubs' Kerry Wood.
"We had to work hard to get the three (wins) here," manager Tony La Russa said. "This was work ball, not playing ball."
For Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, it was almost a day off from work. He was ejected for the fourth time this season after screaming at umpires Eric Cooper and Mike Reilly. McClendon came charging out of the dugout as D'Amico was about to pitch to Edgar Renteria with a runner on first and St. Louis leading 2-0 in the fourth.
"I absolutely didn't say enough to warrant getting thrown out of this game," McClendon said. "All I said was he (Renteria) bunted through a pitch, it's not that hard of a call -- and he threw he me out."
McClendon first yelled at Cooper, the home plate umpire, who quickly ejected him. As Reilly, the crew chief, attempted to steer McClendon toward the Pirates' dugout, the manager angrily tossed his hat and threw down his sunglasses.
At one point during the brief argument, McClendon appeared to bump at least one of the umpires.
Notes: Before Thursday, the Cardinals were 4-10 in Stephenson's 14 road starts. ... It was the first time in five games that Pujols did not extend his streak with a homer. The longest streak in Cardinals history is Rogers Hornsby's 33-game run in 1922. ... Stephenson is 6-2 in his career against Pittsburgh. ... The Pirates have lost seven of 11. ... The Pirates allowed a homer for the eighth consecutive game. ... D'Amico has lost eight of 11 decisions.