Cardinals 4, Pirates 3

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ST. LOUIS (AP)—Albert Pujols knows what he likes to hit. He was patient enough to wait for it, too.

Pujols’ two-out RBI single capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning and gave the St. Louis Cardinals a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

Pujols, leading the majors with a .377 batting average, laid off two curveballs from reliever Mike Lincoln before getting the pitch he wanted.

“I wasn’t thinking about hitting the ball out of the ballpark or trying to do too much,” said Pujols, who has 97 RBIs. “I just wanted to get a hit.”

With the Cardinals trailing by two in the ninth, Edgar Renteria singled off Lincoln with one out. Kerry Robinson singled for his third hit of the game, and a double steal put runners at second and third.

Pinch-hitter Eduardo Perez popped out for the second out, but Orlando Palmeiro’s two-run single tied it at 3.

“As long as we can keep scratching and clawing, we can get the wins,” Palmeiro said. “It doesn’t matter who does it. I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit and he hung a curveball and I hit it up the middle.”

After Bo Hart walked and pinch-hitter Mike Matheny hit an infield single to load the bases, Pujols singled to center to win it.

“We’ve been struggling earlier in the game with runners in scoring position,” said Pujols, who went 4-for-5 in St. Louis’ win Saturday. “Some runners get on and you get a big hit and that’s how you score runs.”

The Cardinals had been 1-40 when trailing after eight innings. On May 24, they rallied with five runs to beat Pittsburgh.

“In this game, you’re going to lose a lot of games like this,” Pujols said. “Tomorrow, we’ve got to forget about this game and try and win that one. This one’s done.”

Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon felt the same way.

“We’ve got to put this one behind us,” McClendon said. “We played extremely well and it’s unfortunate because we were one out away from getting a victory.”

Salomon Torres pitched seven strong innings and got his first career RBI for Pittsburgh, which built a 3-0 lead.

Abraham Nunez drove in a run with a suicide squeeze and scored once for the Pirates. Jeff Reboulet had an RBI single.

It was the first blown save in four opportunities for Lincoln (1-1) since the Pirates traded All-Star closer Mike Williams to Philadelphia.

“There’s going to be ups and downs for sure in this game,” Lincoln said. “Salomon threw a great game and the guys played well. We’re in a position to win the game and I happened to have a rough outing. It was bad timing.”

Cal Eldred (4-4) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win. Palmeiro, who had three RBIs, also hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Torres gave up one run on seven hits and two walks, striking out five in 95-degree heat. The Pirates turned two double plays behind him, giving them 14 in their last 10 games.

The right-hander got Renteria to ground into a double play with two on and nobody out in the second, and Scott Rolen grounded into an inning-ending double play in the fourth with runners at the corners.

St. Louis’ Jeff Fassero pitched 5 2-3 innings in his second start of the season since moving from the bullpen. The 40-year-old left-hander did not allow a hit through the first four innings. He allowed a run and two hits in all, walking three and striking out five.

Reboulet hit an RBI single in the sixth, and the Pirates made it 3-0 in the seventh on Nunez’s squeeze bunt and Torres’ RBI infield single.

St. Louis reliever Lance Painter was hurt on Torres’ hit, falling to the ground while running over to cover first base.

Painter rolled over on his back and threw his glove in the air in pain. He was helped off the field with a severely strained left calf muscle.

Painter missed 60 games earlier this season with a right hamstring injury.

Notes

Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds sat out with stiffness in his right shoulder. Edmonds has played in just four games since the All-Star break. … St. Louis is 6-18 in one-run games. … Pittsburgh SS Jack Wilson missed his third consecutive game with a strained groin. … Pujols extended his hitting streak to 11 games, one shy of his season high. … Pirates OF Matt Stairs is one game shy of 1,000 for his career. He is looking to become the 11th Canadian to play1,000 games in the big leagues.

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