Cardinals 6, Pirates 4

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PITTSBURGH (AP)—St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina didn’t tag out just one runner at the plate Saturday, he got two.

Molina hung onto the ball during a second-inning collision with Ty Wigginton, and the Cardinals went on to match last year’s total with their 85th win, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-4.

“He won every award we can give him,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “The Gold Star, the King of the Hill, whatever. He’ll get points all over baseball for what he did today. he hung onto the ball, stayed in the game and caught a winning game.”

After Reggie Sanders’ three-run homer in the second inning gave Matt Morris (14-8) an early lead, the Pirates’ Jose Castillo singled to right to score Jason Bay. Wigginton, who had doubled Bay to third, also tried to score, bowling over Molina as the catcher fielded Larry Walker’s one-hop throw.

“I was surprised. I didn’t expect that,” Molina said. “I was just watching the ball, looking for the ball, and he got me.”

Jim Edmonds hit his fifth homer in as many games for St. Louis, a major league-best 85-44. His two-run homer in the third inning helped the Cardinals improve to 11-5 this year against the Pirates.

Morris allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, and Jason Isringhausen pitched the ninth for his 38th save in 44 chances.

Molina also took Edmonds’ throw from center field and tagged out Castillo in the fourth inning after Jason Kendall’s two-out single, preserving a 5-4 lead.

“It was a hot day to begin with, and it’s tough just to sit there and catch the game,” Morris said. “But to take a hit like that and shake it off is just impressive. That shows you how much heart he has.”

It was the second big collision this month for Wigginton, who broke the ankle of catcher Koyie Hill while scoring a run at Arizona.

“I thought I was going to score, and the next thing I know Molina is right in front of me,” Wigginton said. “I didn’t get across, didn’t get the run scored, so I guess it was all for naught. If he drops the ball, it might be a different ballgame.”

Nelson Figueroa (0-1), making his second start of the season, gave up five runs and six hits in four innings as the Pirates lost for the seventh time in nine games. He didn’t get a decision at St. Louis on Aug. 20.

“You can’t make mistakes against a team like that,” Figueroa said. “It was just two pitches, two home-run balls, that put up all five runs they had early on.”

Sanders hit his 20th homer of the season after Scott Rolen’s leadoff walk and Edmonds’ single. Sanders also doubled and scored in the ninth on So Taguchi’s two-out single off Salomon Torres.

“This game is all about timely hitting,” Sanders said. “We don’t rely on any one person.”

Edmonds followed a two-out walk to Rolen in the third inning with his 36th homer, making it 5-1. Edmonds hit two homers Friday and has 10 RBIs in the last five games.

“He’s playing as well as anyone in baseball,” La Russa said.

Pittsburgh closed to 5-4 in the fourth on a two-run homer by Bay, who is 6-for-9 in his career against Morris, and a solo drive by Tike Redman. Bay’s homer was his 20th.

“The guys battled back and made it interesting, but this is a results-oriented business,” Pittsburgh manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I want the wins. I don’t care about close games.”

Notes

Pirates’ LHP Frank Brooks, who made his major league debut with a perfect inning Friday, pitched three scoreless innings and has yet to allow a hit … After the Pittsburgh series, St. Louis plays 18 of its final 32 games against the NL West. … St. Louis is 24-9 at PNC Park. … Tony Womack went 0-for-4, ending a 13-game hitting streak.

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