St. Louis (4-4) rallied from two runs down in the ninth to defeat the Pirates 3-2 in 12 innings on Tuesday - the team’s third straight win and fourth in five games. Scott Spiezio’s two-run single in the ninth tied the score, and Skip Schumaker’s sacrifice fly won it in the 12th.
“That was the way we were last year, come from behind and never give up,” Spiezio said. “It was a great win for us.”
The defending World Series champion Cardinals have not swept a three-game series at PNC Park since Aug. 27-29, 2004.
Despite the rousing win, Pujols went 0-for-5 on Tuesday, and is just 5-for-30 (.167) with a homer and two RBIs this season. With their top slugger struggling, the Cardinals have been held to three runs or fewer in all but two of their eight games, and scored one run or less four times.
While the offense is having trouble scoring, St. Louis has allowed just three runs during its winning streak. Their pitchers have yielded just 13 hits over 30 innings and a .133 opponent batting average during the run.
Wainwright (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who made 61 relief appearances as a rookie last season, takes the mound trying to build off an impressive first career start.
The right-hander made a seamless adjustment to the starting role Friday, when he allowed one run and five hits in seven innings of St. Louis’ 4-2 win over Houston.
“I approached it the same way for the most part, I’m attacking hitters and trying to get them out as quick as I can,” Wainwright told the team’s official Web site.
He also hit an RBI double in the third inning, and is 4-for-8 with two doubles and a homer at the plate in his brief career.
Wainwright has struggled in his career against the Pirates, though, allowing five runs in five innings over four relief appearances.
Pittsburgh (4-4) counters with left-hander Paul Maholm (0-1, 7.20), who seeks to bounce back from a tough first outing on Friday, when he gave up four runs - all on two homers - in five innings of a 6-1 loss at Cincinnati.
He may fare better at PNC Park, where he went 5-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 15 starts last season.
The left-hander also pitched well against the Cardinals in 2006, going 1-1 with a 1.42 ERA in two starts. Pujols, though, is 3-for-5 with a double and a home run in his career against Maholm.
Freddy Sanchez, last season’s NL batting champ, went 3-for-6 on Tuesday to improve to 5-for-14 (.357) in three games since coming off the disabled list with a sprained ligament in his right knee.
The Pirates have lost two straight and four of their last five after starting the season with a three-game sweep at Houston.