The Cardinals have sputtered at a few positions, notably left field and right field, and have had occasional bullpen issues in the early season. But the problems can't be too bad. The Cards' 6-3 win over the Pirates on Tuesday night ensured their sixth series victory out of seven.
Jeff Suppan became the last St. Louis starter to enter the win column. He survived a three-run burst in the Pittsburgh third -- all of the runs were unearned because of an interference call against catcher Gary Bennett -- and retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced.
Suppan's ERA had been 9.00 for his first three starts, but he located much better Tuesday, walking none and throwing 71 strikes in 111 pitches. He is 7-2 against Pittsburgh in his career.
Juan Encarnacion broke out of his three-week slump with a double, a triple, a home run and four RBIs.
"That shows you what he's capable of doing," said manager Tony La Russa, who has staunchly defended his outfielder.
REPLAY: Jim Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion each drove in a run in the first inning Tuesday as the Cardinals jumped to a 2-0 lead. After Pittsburgh got three unearned runs in the third, Encarnacion stroked a two-out, two-run homer in the fourth, leading St. Louis to a 6-3 win. It was Encarnacion's first homer since Aug. 31, when he went deep against the Cardinals as a member of the Marlins.
The Cardinals have beaten the woeful Pirates four of five games this year and 23 of their last 28 overall.
--3B Scott Rolen missed his first game of the season Tuesday. Rolen was absent because of a case of bronchitis, and he isn't expected to play Wednesday afternoon either. He was not even at the park on a bitterly cold night.
--LHP Mark Mulder will take a 5-0 career mark and 2.23 ERA into Wednesday's start against the Pirates.
--RF Juan Encarnacion's run-scoring ground-rule double in the first inning Tuesday was his first run-scoring hit with a man in scoring position. He had been 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position previously, with his only RBI coming on a groundout.
--2B Hector Luna had his fourth multi-hit game and second in two nights. He had three singles and stole a base.
--The eighth- and ninth-inning tandem of the Cardinals' bullpen worked almost perfectly. RHP Braden Looper had a perfect eighth, and RHP Jason Isringhausen, earning his sixth save in seven opportunities, worked a hitless ninth.