Who needs a blockbuster pitching trade to keep up in the NL Central? Certainly not the Cardinals.
In a classic National League contest, a pitching duel between Philadelphia's ace Cole Hamels and St. Louis' right-hander Joel Pineiro commenced on Tuesday night. The Cardinals won 2-0 in a game where offense was limited.
Rick Ankiel and newly appointed All-Star Ryan Ludwick both hit solo home runs that would be all of the offense Pineiro would need. Only hours after a big pitching trade which sent Rich Harden to the Cubs, the Cardinals answered in the only way they know how; with a victory.
Pineiro, who hasn't won a decision since late April, needed this win over a red hot Phillies offense. Sporting a nearly all-MVP infield, Philadelphia had proved they had the offense as they currently lead the NL East.
The Edison, Florida product pitched 6 and 1/3 shutout innings, while giving up only five hits. On the other side of the coin, Phillies ace Cole Hamels only faltered twice by allowing the two solo shots to Ankiel and Ludwick. Hamels managed to strike out eight batters in the contest.
Hamels was nearly untouchable as he only allowed one other hit despite the solo jacks. He also did not walk a batter in the game as that is a testament to how much this young pitcher has grown into his dominating role.
Perhaps an even bigger story was that the Cardinals bullpen managed to keep the lead the Redbirds had fought so hard to obtain. Ron Villone, Kyle McClellan, and Ryan Franklin allowed only a single hit.
A very solid outing by a St. Louis bullpen that had been up and down more than a roller coaster at Six Flags St. Lous.
The win kept the Cardinals a full game in the division and a half game in the wild card in front the Milwaukee Brewers. A very timely victory indeed.