PITTSBURGH (AP)—Nate McLouth wanted to hit for the cycle, but was happy to settle for a victory instead.
McLouth homered and had a career-high five RBIs to lead Pittsburgh to a 10-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night. Paul Maholm (9-8) pitched into the ninth inning for the last-place Pirates, who snapped a six-game losing streak and won for the fourth time in 21 games.
“It was a great game tonight,” McLouth said. “With the 20 games we’ve had, it was just what we needed.”
McLouth, who reached base five times, finished a single short of the cycle. He hit a two-run home run in the third, a three-run double in the fifth and a triple in the sixth.
Needing a single to complete the cylce, McLouth reached on a error by Cardinals second baseman Brian Barden in the eighth inning.
“No question, it was on my mind,” McLouth said. “It would have been neat to get, but I’ll take the result of the game anyday.
McLouth’s big night sparked the Pittsburgh offense, which had 14 hits and scored 10 runs for the first time since beating St. Louis 12-11 in 10 innings on July 12.
“It was a great night for Nate, obviously,” Pittsburgh manager John Russell said. “Everyone was pulling for him to get that last hit. That’s what he can do. He really jump-started our offense.”
Rookie Luis Cruz also had three hits, and Nyjer Morgan and Raul Chavez added two hits each for Pittsburgh, which improved to 8-7 against St. Louis, getting its most wins in a season against the Cardinals since 1997.
Pittsburgh sent 11 batters to the plate during a six-run fifth inning that chased St. Louis starter Joel Pineiro (6-6). Pineiro, who was making his first start since Sept. 1, allowed seven runs and eight hits in four-plus innings.
“I’m not going to make an excuse just because I haven’t pitched in a while,” Pineiro said. “I still have to go out there and give the team a chance to win. I didn’t do that today.”
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa called it a puzzling night for Pineiro, who struck out the side in the fourth before unraveling in the fifth.
“You watch him and you get excited because he will make a pitch or two, and you think that’s what he’s going to do most of the night,” La Russa said. “Then, he’ll throw one down the middle and get hurt.”
It was a much easier night for Maholm, who allowed two runs and seven hits. The left-hander was removed after allowing the first four hitters to reach base in the ninth.
“You always want to finish the night,” said Maholm, who has three career complete games, “but they were starting to get this. (Russell) made the right move.”
The left-hander, who came in hitting .103 with one RBI, had two hits in the fifth inning, including a two-run single. He became the first Pirates pitcher to get two hits in an inning since Kip Wells did it at Milwaukee on Aug. 24, 2002.
“It’s fun to get hits, but I’ll leave that to the position players,” Maholm said.
Mark Johnson drove in a run for St. Louis, which lost its third straight to fall five games behind Milwaukee in the National League wild-card race. The Brewers were rained out at Philadelphia.
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 13 minutes by rain.
RHP Daniel McCutchen, acquired from the New York Yankees as part of the Xavier Nady trade, joined the Pirates for their series against the Cardinals, though he wasn’t activated. McCutchen said the move was made for him to “hang out and see what it’s like in the big leagues.” Pittsburgh plans to do the same with former first-round picks Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen during their 10-game homestand. … The inclement weather forced the Pirates to postpone afternoon activities planned outside PNC Park in honor of Roberto Clemente Day. They were rescheduled for next Friday before the Pirates play Houston. … Brian Barden, who was called up by St. Louis on September 2, made his first start of the season at second base. … St. Louis RHP Brad Thompson originally was scheduled to start Friday, with Pineiro set to pitch Sunday. La Russa decided to switch the two late Thursday night.