Pirates 2, Cardinals 1

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—Jack Wilson turned a baserunning mistake rarely seen at a level above Little League into an improbable victory for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the NL’s hottest team.

Wilson circled the bases on a bizarre play in the bottom of the ninth that began with his apparent double and the Pirates, held hitless into the seventh by Jeff Suppan, rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Monday night.

Wilson hit a drive down the left-field line for his NL-leading 104th hit and only the Pirates’ third of the game with one out against Julian Tavarez (2-1). Thinking no one was covering second, Wilson kept running on the play.

First baseman Albert Pujols moved over to cut off left fielder Ray Lankford’s throw and had plenty of time to get Wilson at third. But Pujols’ throw sailed wide of the bag and down a dugout tunnel, sending Wilson home with a run that probably prevented him from being fined. He was credited with a triple on the play.

“It was like a play in T-ball where you hit the ball and just keep running,” Wilson said. “When I came around second, I saw him (Pujols) moving in and my heart sank and I thought, `I’ve just made the stupidest play ever.”’

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa must have felt much the same way about Lankford’s throw.

“That was a mistake,” he said. “He (Wilson) did some aggressive baserunning, forced a mistake and won a game, but the (initial) throw’s got to go to third base.”

After the Pirates pulled out a game in which it once seemed they might not get a hit, manager Lloyd McClendon had some advice for Wilson: Don’t do it again.

“Jack is an exciting player with a lot of energy,” he said. “He makes things happen—sometimes in some very weird ways.”

Jose Mesa (1-0) got the victory with a scoreless ninth after starters Suppan and Kris Benson each allowed one run over eight innings. Suppan didn’t allow a hit until Craig Wilson’s opposite-field double with two outs in the seventh, just ahead of Jason Bay’s tying RBI double.

The Pirates won their third in a row but only their fourth in 11 games, while the division-leading Cardinals lost for the first time in six games and only the eighth time in 32 games. Pittsburgh has the majors’ worst home record (12-22) and the Cardinals own the best road record (26-13).

Suppan looked sharp from the start—he was 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA in his seven most recent starts—and had only one hard-hit ball against him until Wilson’s drive into the right-center gap.

“After Wilson doubled, I called (catcher) Mike (Matheny) out just to regroup—we were winning the game,” said Suppan, who spent most of last season with Pittsburgh. “I was trying to throw a sinker away to Bay, but I ended up throwing it down the middle and there’s that run. There’s really not much to say after that.”

The Pirates had only two baserunners over the first six innings, Bay in the second on third baseman Scott Rolen’s one-out error and Jason Kendall on a leadoff walk in the fifth.

“What we learned when he was with us was if you don’t get him early, he really gets it going,” McClendon said of Suppan.

Benson got off to a shaky start, loading the bases with one out in the first before escaping. He ran into trouble again in the second when Matheny singled with one out and Tony Womack doubled him home, but the right-hander allowed only two hits over his final six innings.

Benson appeared to be in trouble when Rolen and Edgar Renteria singled to start the sixth. But Renteria was thrown out trying to advance to second after right fielder Craig Wilson overthrew the base and So Taguchi grounded into a double play.

Benson, unsigned past this season and rumored in trade talks, gave up sixhits, four in the first two innings, walked three and struck out one.


Suppan was trying to beat the Pirates for the third straight time this season. … Heavy rain resulted in a 30-minute delay at the start, but the sun was out when play began. … The Pirates haven’t had a no-hitter pitched against them since the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson beat them 11-0 on Aug. 14, 1971, barely a year after the now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium opened. It remains the only no-hitter pitched against the Pirates in Pittsburgh since they became a major league team in 1887. … The Cardinals left five on base in the first two innings but only one over the final seven innings. … St. Louis had won 14 of its previous 16 in Pittsburgh and is 22-7 there since PNC Park opened in2001.

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