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Pirates lose eighth time in past nine games

Pirates lose eighth time in past nine games
ST. LOUIS - To say the Pirates wasted some chances to beat the Cardinals on Wednesday night is like saying the nearby Mississippi is just another river.

The Pirates had at least one runner in scoring position in five of the first six innings against the NL-leading Cardinals.

They knocked out Cards starter Mitchell Boggs in the fifth. Fourteen of their first 29 batters reached base either by hit, walk or error, and they received another solid start from pitcher Zach Duke.

Yet, they lost again, this time, 4-2, at Busch Stadium, as the Cardinals snapped a season-long three-game losing streak.

Reigning NL Player of the Week Albert Pujols went 4-for-4 and hit his NL-leading 11th home run. Todd McClellan (2-1) got the win in relief of Boggs and Ryan Franklin earned his eighth save.

It was the eighth loss in the past nine games for the Pirates (12-15), who fell to a season-worst three games under .500.

But this game didn't feature the hapless offense that has haunted the Pirates during their slide from a once-promising April. The Pirates got baserunners -- 14 in the first six innings on six hits, seven walks and an error. But they were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

Here is the story of what might have been:

? The Pirates had a runner on second with one out in the first.

? In the second, they had two runners on with no out and the bases loaded with two out.

? After a 1-2-3 third, they had first and second with no out in the fourth; first and third with two out in the fifth; and bases loaded with one out in the sixth.

The grand total of all those opportunities: two runs, one in the second on Nyjer Morgan's two-out single and one in the fourth on Nate McLouth's one-out double.

With the Pirates trailing 4-2 and the bases loaded in the sixth, Freddy Sanchez grounded into an inning-ending double play. That was the Pirates' last chance; they didn't have another baserunner the rest of the game, as the final nine batters went down in order.

Morgan went 2-for-3 with a run scored and one stolen base. Delwyn Young, making his first start since being acquired from the Dodgers, went 1-for-2 and reached base three times.

"I'd like to get him a few at-bats in a row," Pirates manager John Russell said of Young before the game. "He's a good Baseball player."

Duke (3-3), who entered the game with the sixth-best ERA in the NL (2.21), allowed a first-inning home run to Pujols and a two-run triple to Chris Duncan in the fourth. But otherwise, the left-hander pitched well at the site of his April 8 win over the Cardinals.

Duke, who threw only 77 pitches, allowed four earned runs on six hits in 51/3 innings.

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on Pujols' 408-foot line drive to left-center off Duke.

The Pirates tied the score, 1-1, on Morgan's RBI single in the second, but not without wasting a chance at a big inning against the erratic Boggs.

With two runners on and nobody out, Ramon Vazquez grounded into a double play. Boggs kept throwing balls, and the Pirates loaded the bases on walks to Jason Jaramillo and a four-pitch walk to Duke.

Boggs finally threw a strike - to the mock cheers of the 36,188 fans - before Morgan sliced a single to center to score Delwyn Young. But center fielder Colby Rasmus's precise throw to the plate caught Jason Jaramillo trying to score from second, and Boggs avoided further damage.

In the fourth, the Pirates again failed to exploit Boggs' off-night. Young drew a leadoff walk and Andy LaRoche singled. But Ransom made another nice play, tracking down Vazquez's drive to the wall, and Jaramillo grounded out to first and Duke struck out to end the inning.

The Cardinals took advantage of the Pirates' generosity in the fourth to regain the lead, 4-1. Chris Duncan tripled over Young's head in right field to score two runs, and Khalil Greene hit a sacrifice fly to shallow center field. Duncan beat McLouth's throw home.


Cardinals first (Zach Duke pitching)

With two out, Albert Pujols homered to left (No. 11) on an 0-0 pitch.

Cardinals 1, Pirates 0

Pirates second (Mitchell Boggs pitching)

With none out, Delwyn Young singled to left. Andy LaRoche walked, Young to second. Ramon Vazquez grounded into double play, LaRoche out at second, Young safe at third. Jason Jaramillo walked. Zach Duke walked, Jaramillo to second. Nyjer Morgan singled to center, Young scored, Jaramillo out at home.

Pirates 1, Cardinals 1

Cardinals fourth (Duke pitching)

With none out, Pujols singled to left. Ryan Ludwick walked, Pujols to second. Yadier Molida lined to center, Pujols to third. Chris Duncan tripled to right, Pujols and Ludwick scored. Khalil Greene hit sacrifice fly to center, Duncan scored.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 1

Pirates fifth (Boggs pitching)

With none out, Morgan walked. Freddy Sanchez flied out to center. Morgan stole second. Nate McLouth doubled to right, Morgan scored.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 2,

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: May 7, 2009

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