"It's about representing yourself in the competition," manager Tony La Russa said. "We're trying not to embarrass ourselves. We can't get involved in what (the Mets) are trying to do."
Pineiro, using four pitches, kept the Mets off balance and worked ahead in the count all night as he went a season-high eight innings, allowing only four baserunners.
"It was my last start," Pineiro said. "I told myself I was going to give it all I have, whether it's three innings, four innings or nine."
After eight, Pineiro (6-4) told third base coach Jose Oquendo, his manager on the Puerto Rico team in last year's World Baseball Classic, that he was tiring. His message was, "I can out go there. But I'm kind of done."
La Russa had closer Jason Isringhausen, who has blown just two of 33 save opportunities, ready to come in, and Isringhausen had an uneventful ninth.
The Cardinals are expected to try hard to re-sign Pineiro, whom they acquired from Boston in a trade-deadline swap. La Russa has noticed the club has some jump when Pineiro is pitching.
"He works quickly and makes pitches," La Russa said. "Your defense follows."
CARDINALS 3, METS 0: Shortstop David Eckstein made two excellent plays, third baseman Miguel Cairo turned a potential double into a double play in the fifth inning, and Albert Pujols was involved in all the scoring in Thursday's win at New York. The Cardinals, doomed to their first losing season since 1999, won their second consecutive game over a contending team. After beating Milwaukee 7-3 Wednesday, the Cardinals jumped Mets right-hander Pedro Martinez for three runs in the first three innings before Martinez found his form.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RF Ryan Ludwick singled home a run in the third inning Thursday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games.
--1B Albert Pujols scored a run, giving him 97 for the season with three games to play. He is attempting to hit .300 with 30 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs for the seventh consecutive season -- all seven seasons he has played in the majors.
--RHP Todd Wellemeyer, who threw one-hit ball for five innings in his last start Sunday, will pitch the opener of a three-game series Friday night in Pittsburgh.
--CF Jim Edmonds, out with a strained groin, is hopeful of playing in Pittsburgh, but manager Tony La Russa probably won't risk it.
--Cardinals pitchers faced just 30 batters in nine innings Thursday. There were three Mets hits, one walk and a double play.