The Redbird Report 09/05 ONE GAME BACK

Joel Pineiro picked up his fourth win in six decisions Tuesday night as the Cardinals defeated the Pirates 6-2, to pull to just one game back of Chicago in the National League Central Division standings.

If the Cubs and Brewers both lose Wednesday and the Cardinals win, St. Louis will be in first place in the National League Central.

The Cardinals pulled to one game behind the Cubs on Tuesday night by beating former Cardinals ace Matt Morris and the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2.

The big hits were delivered by two batters who hadn't helped the Cardinals much lately. Left fielder Chris Duncan, who has had just one multi-hit game since late July and was 0-for-13 batting in the third spot, took a Morris fastball the other way into left field and cleared the bases with a three-run double.

And third baseman Russell Branyan, who mostly had sat on the bench since the Cardinals obtained him from Philadelphia last week, cracked his first home run with them (10th) overall, made two outstanding plays in the field and didn't strike out in four at-bats. In his career, he has fanned once every 2.5 at-bats.

Reliable setup man Ryan Franklin, after pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, was allowed to stay in for the ninth and gained his first big-league save.

CARDINALS 6, PITTSBURGH 2: RHP Joel Pineiro gained his fourth win in six decisions as he received 3 1/3 innings of solid relief, mostly from RHPs Russ Springer and Ryan Franklin. SS David Eckstein, putting on a late surge, got three straight hits off Pittsburgh RHP Matt Morris and scored two runs in a game for the first time three weeks. 1B Albert Pujols didn't drive in a run for the eighth straight game.


--The Cardinals have brought up four more players from Memphis for the stretch drive -- C Kelly Stinnett, INF Brian Barden and RHPs Brad Thompson and Brian Falkenborg. All but Barden, acquired from Arizona in a minor league trade, have been here before this season.

--Manager Tony La Russa wouldn't endorse RHP Kip Wells, the loser in an 11-0 debacle on Monday, as his starter Sunday in Arizona the next time Wells' turn comes around. La Russa said he talked it over with pitching coach Dave Duncan, adding, "We're concerned. If we feel we've got a better shot with somebody else, then (that pitcher) is going to pitch."

--LHP Mark Mulder, who had rotator cuff surgery in September last season, will make his first big-league start in 53 weeks Wednesday night when he faces the Pirates. On Thursday, LHP Mike Maroth, back from a bout with elbow tendinitis and a rehab stint in the minors, will make his first start since July 27.

--The three runs LF Chris Duncan drove in gave him just 10 in his last 37 games (21 starts).

--3B Russell Branyan homered for his third different club this season -- San Diego, Philadelphia and the Cardinals.

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