It was only one game, but
Right-hander Edwin Jackson, despite a third-inning wild streak, turned in a decent start, giving up four runs, but only one earned run, in six innings.
The bullpen was spotless for the last three innings, notably right-hander Jason Motte, who ran his streak to 28 games in which he hasn't allowed an earned run. Motte stranded the potential tying run at third in the eighth inning when the Cardinals led by only one.
And there was clutch hitting. David Freese, who had been 2-for-20 and had grounded into a double play in his previous at-bat, blooped a two-run single to put the Cardinals ahead 5-4 in the fifth. Then, after Albert Pujols was walked intentionally for a second time in a row with two outs in the eighth inning, Matt Holliday, who had lined out in his previous at-bat, smacked a three-run homer into the visitors' bullpen to put the game away.
The win snapped a losing streak at three games and was just the Cardinals' third in their last 10 games, all against losing teams. In their previous two games, the Cardinals had been outscored 22-6 by the Dodgers.
"It's been a rough couple of days," Holliday said. "We came out with a little more energy.
"We have a really good team. Maybe we're not going to catch the Brewers ... but we should go out there and win the rest of our games. That's the kind of talent we have on this team. I expect us to play like this the rest of the way."
RHP Jason Motte has worked 21 innings in 28 games without allowing an earned run, and he stranded the potential tying run in the eighth inning Thursday night. Manager Tony La Russa said Motte would see some ninth-inning duty before the season was over. "He's really keeping his emotions on track better," La Russa said of his hard thrower. Motte, not so concerned with his own streak, said, "It annoys me more to give up somebody else's runs than it does to give up one of my own."
3B David Freese entered Thursday's game in a 2-for-18 slump, and then he committed a key error in the top of the third and hit into a double play in the bottom of the third. But he rallied with a two-run single that put the Cardinals ahead to stay in the fifth. "He really fought off a tough night," manager Tony La Russa said. "You've got to be a tough competitor not to dwell on the negative and not droop a little bit."
CF Jon Jay didn't start the game but singled as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and doubled to start a three-run rally in the eighth. Jay, who finished with a .300 average in his rookie season last year, is at .300 this year.
1B Albert Pujols, bidding to knock in and score 100 runs, reached 78 RBI with a run-scoring double in the first inning Thursday night. He scored three runs, giving him 86. He is hitting .290 as he aims for an 11th straight .300 season.
RHP Edwin Jackson scored his third win with the Cardinals on Thursday. All have come at home. Both of his losses have come on the road.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0.90 -
LHP Mark Rzepczynski's ERA with the Cardinals (over 10 innings) after arriving
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The Pirates shouldn't take it personally. He's hit .300 against everybody."
- Manager Tony La Russa
on CF Allen Craig, who is hitting .526 against
INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.
RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Tony La Russa and Jason Motte give their take on the 8-4 victory against Pittsburgh.