Right-hander Joel Pineiro had contributed little and shortstop Brendan Ryan nothing to the Cardinals because of spring training injuries.
But Pineiro, who failed to win either of his first two starts, displayed much better location and pitch variety Thursday night, working seven innings of one-run ball and striking out six. Those six were his first strikeouts of the season after Pineiro had faced 48 San Francisco hitters over two starts without striking out anybody.
Ryan, just off a rehabilitation assignment that was necessitated by a ribcage injury, had a hand in the 6-2 victory over Pittsburgh. He reached base all four times he batted on two hits, a walk and an error and drove in a run with a two-out single besides playing flawlessly in the field.
The Cardinals had only two hits off Pittsburgh lefty Tom Gorzelanny through five innings but took advantage of three of Gorzelanny's seven walks to score three runs in the fifth inning. One of the walks went to Pineiro, who has fanned in his eight other at-bats this season.
Cardinals 6, Pirates 2: The Cardinals managed a 2-2 split on their four-game trip. The heroes were some of the usual ones this year. Skip Schumaker, developing into one of the best leadoff men in the league, had a run-scoring double with two outs and walked twice, and Albert Pujols reached base all five times he was up. But little-used Brian Barton also had two hits and drove in the first two runs with a fifth-inning single. And Brendan Ryan, playing his first game of the season, also reached base four times.
• SS Cesar Izturis probably will rest his bruised throwing arm this weekend against Houston, and Brendan Ryan and Aaron Miles will share the shortstop duties. Izturis was hit near the right elbow by a pitch on Tuesday.
• The Cardinals are 41-18 all-time in Pittsburgh's PNC Park.
• RHP Joel Pineiro, the winning pitcher, made the defensive play of the game by stopping Freddy Sanchez's sixth-inning bouncer with his right leg and then plucking the ball out of the air and throwing off-balance, but strongly, to first for the out.
• C Yadier Molina, whose average had shrunk to .246, had two doubles and a single. He will need to show that sort of offense to warrant hitting sixth in the order.
• RHP Jason Isringhausen retired the final two hitters to gain his eighth save in nine opportunities after RHP Russ Springer got into trouble in the ninth inning.
By The Numbers: 16-Number of hitting streaks of 10 games or longer in 1B Albert Pujols' career.
- Jay (StLDieHard)
**aka Skip Schumaker**