Before that, left fielder Scott Spiezio got himself ejected from the game by plate umpire Bob Davidson after being called out on strikes to end the 10th inning.
That ejection forced Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to use his last position player, Adam Kennedy, and to take out right-hander Troy Percival, who probably could have thrown another inning but was double-switched out of the game.
La Russa insisted Spiezio's ejection didn't make any difference. "Kennedy was going to go in anyway," he said.
As luck would have it, Kennedy wound up in right field for the first time in his big-league career and had to make a throw home -- off-line -- on the winning hit by Pirates pinch hitter Jose Castillo.
Had the Cardinals taken a lead in the top of the 11th, closer Jason Isringhausen, who had an easy 10th inning, likely would have stayed in to pitch a second inning. But when they didn't score, La Russa put in Brad Thompson, who had pitched two innings the day before.
Thompson got a double play, but Castillo took a low pitch to right field for the winning hit.
"That ball's got to be out of the zone," La Russa said. "We lost a game we should have won."
The Cardinals stranded 11 runners.
PIRATES 5, CARDINALS 4 (11 innings): Albert Pujols tied the score at 4-4 with a home run on an 0-2 pitch in the seventh inning, but that was the last time the Cardinals would score. Anthony Reyes, staked to a rare three-run lead, blew it in a three-run fifth when he gave up three doubles. Brad Thompson suffered the loss, dropping the bullpen's record to 21-6.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--LHP Tyler Johnson (biceps tendinitis) almost certainly will come off his rehabilitation option and join the team in Washington to take the pressure off the overworked bullpen.
--LHP Mike Maroth, whom manager Tony La Russa and others think is tipping his pitches, may be asked to take an assignment to Class AAA Memphis.
--C Yadier Molina, whose average had sunk under .250 recently, had two doubles, a single and a walk.
--SS David Eckstein's two errors gave him 14 for the season -- a lot when you consider he missed a month with a back injury. Eckstein also went 0-for-5.
--RHP Russ Springer allowed just his third homer, a solo shot to C Ronnie Paulino in the sixth inning.
--1B Albert Pujols' seventh-inning homer was the 20th of his career at PNC Park. That is the most for any visiting player.
--Cardinals hitters in the No. 1 and 2 spots went 0-for-11.