With the baseball world swirling over trade talks about possible suitors for Roy Halladay, Cardinals Nation savored a win over their division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers, on Thursday to extended their lead in the NL Central.
Joel Pineiro's complete game gem was the highlight of the day, helping the Cardinals defeat the Brewers ,5-1.
Sporting a 3.39 ERA before the contest, Pineiro has nine losses to show for his efforts this season.
Obviously, the hitting has been suspect with Ryan Ludwick struggling in the weeks following his activation from the disabled list. Combined with Rick Ankiel's roller coaster of a power surge, it's a wonder that the rotation doesn't have more losses.
Pineiro has pitched some great games this year, but St. Louis' bats fell silent several times and cost the young right-hander at least three more wins, to my knowledge.
Nevertheless, despite some early inning offensive sputtering, the Cardinals came through for Pineiro in the late innings to give him the victory.
Ludwick was the biggest part of a five-run eighth inning, but Brendan Ryan started the rally with an RBI triple to tie the game. Reigning NL MVP Albert Pujols put the Cardinals up one with an RBI single, but Ludwick's three-run blast off Brewers' reliever Todd Coffey was the Cardinals' exclamation point of the inning.
The offense came late for the Redbirds, but Pineiro's mental toughness persevered.
"[It was] awesome," Pineiro said of getting the late runs. "You can't give up. In that eighth inning I was just thinking it was a 0-0 ballgame and I had to concentrate, keep making pitches and hopefully something would happen, and it did."
With fantastic outings from Adam Wainwright defeating Yovani Gallardo and Chris Carpenter pitching a gem against the Reds, it looks as if St. Louis might just be getting things back on track.
With Kyle Lohse scheduled to come back against the Chicago Cubs in a doubleheader, the rotation seems to be coming together.
Pineiro was excellent against the Brewers, giving up only three hits with no walks and pitching all nine innings with only 100 pitches. The only damage done to him was by a Mike Cameron RBI single in the fifth inning.
Extremely efficient to say the least.
Ludwick's three-run homer to give Pineiro breathing room was something the outfielder knew was important.
"I was just lucky that the one hit I had today was a big one," said Ludwick. "He definitely deserved good run support. He's been pitching well all year and not getting a whole not of runs, so to be able to do it—even though it was late—everyone was happy about that."
Ludwick, amongst the entire Cardinals starting lineup, was thankful to get a hit against Brewers' starter Manny Parra. He matched Pineiro pitch-for-pitch as he held St. Louis to just three hits through seven innings while striking out seven.
Alas, the Milwaukee bullpen let him down.
St. Louis' skipper tried his best to break through against the veteran journeyman.
"He was impressive," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "We just tried to make him work, so it got to where he couldn't go any further and he was hurting. But he shut us down."
The Cardinals extended their lead to two games in the NL Central and Joel Pineiro improved his record to 7-9, lowering his ERA to 3.20.
Quotes and information attributed to MLB.com