April 11 – Cardinals 3, Pirates 2

The Cardinals completed their three-game road sweep over the Pirates on Wednesday afternoon. Chris Duncan's ninth-inning home run was the difference-maker.

The St. Louis Cardinals finished off a series sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday afternoon by a score of 3-2. It was decided by another clutch hit, this time coming off the bat of pinch hitter Chris Duncan. His ninth inning solo home run to deep center put the Cardinals ahead and ended up being the game-winning run.

After defeating the Pirates by scores of 3-0 and 3-2 in the first two games, the Cardinals knew the final game of the already-decided series would be another tough matchup. Still, with Adam Wainwright on the mound, St. Louis had to like their chances. This was only Wainwright's second career start, but last year's 6-foot7' righty interim closer pitched 6 and 2/3 innings on his way to receiving a no decision. He gave up two runs, one on an RBI single by Pirates' catcher Humberto Cota, and another on a Freddy Sanchez sacrifice fly. Wainwright was far from stellar, but got the job done by effectively getting himself out of jams. He gave up seven base hits and walked four, but also struck out four.

The Cardinals' offense mainly rested on the bats of shortstop David Eckstein, who went 2-for-5 with one run scored and one RBI, Preston Wilson, who had an RBI single, and Duncan, who was 1-for-1 as a pinch hitter with that eventual game-winning home run.

The winner came off Pittsburgh closer Salomon Torres, who also gave up the tying runs in Tuesday night's win. It was Duncan's second home run of the year.

Ryan Franklin pitched long enough to retire four batters in the eighth and ninth innings, just enough to pick up the win. Torres took the loss for the Pirates.

The Cardinals now have a 5-4 record, and as of Wednesday afternoon, the Cardinals own sole possession of the division lead. With a Cincinnati Reds victory Wednesday night, the Cardinals would share the lead, but if the Reds lose, the Cardinals stay atop the division for at least one more day.

Game Notes:

-Scott Rolen was once again scratched from the lineup because of back spasms. Manager Tony La Russa said that Rolen should be back soon.

-Albert Pujols picked up a single Wednesday, walked once, and did not strike out. It's going to be a wait and see type of ordeal before anyone knows if he is out of his slump.

-Chris Duncan is blossoming into a big time home run threat. The fact that he sat out the game Wednesday makes me scratch my head. He needs to be in left field every game, otherwise he will not ever get better defensively or learn to hit left-handed pitchers any better.

-The Cardinals now head to Milwaukee to start a series against the Brewers on Friday, a game that starts at 7:10 P.M. CDT. The series should be fun, especially with former Cardinal Jeff Suppan on the mound for Sunday's series finale.

Brady Holzhauer can be reached via email at sportswriter5@gmail.com.

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