The Cardinals had not scored any runs in April for righthander Adam Wainwright in his first 19 2/3 innings of pitching over four starts. Not surprisingly, Wainwright, who had not pitched all that well in a couple of those games, was 0-3.
But with the advent of May tonight, the Cardinals' offense was in full bloom. A three-run homer by David Freese, a two-run drive by Rafael Furcal and a solo shot by Matt Holliday provided large support. Four stolen bases by the Cardinals and four Pirates errors also abetted as the Cardinals took charge in the middle innings and then held on for a 10-7 win at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright gave up two homers but just three other hits in seven innings as he won for the first time since Sept. 24, 2010.
The Cardinals (15-8) scored 10 or more runs for the fifth time this season in 23 games. This was the most runs allowed in a game by the Pirates, who have scored more than six just twice in their 23 games.
Furcal's 1st HR makes it 10-4
Rafael Furcal's first homer of the season, a two-run blow, highlighted a three-run seventh inning as the Cardinals blew open their game with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. Furcal, batting righthanded against lefthander Tony Watson, gave the Cardinals a 10-4 lead and put Adam Wainwright in position to gain his first win since Sept. 24, 2010.
Earlier in the inning, a double steal by Yadier Molina, who had two stolen bases in the game, and Allen Craig gave the Cardinals four steals for the night. Two Pittsburgh errors, making that total also four for the night, contributed to the Cardinals' first run of the seventh.
Alvarez HR cuts Cards' lead to 7-4
WPittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who started the season in tortoise-like fashion, ripped his eighth extra-base hit in his last seven games when he smoked a two-homer off Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright in the seventh, slicing the Cardinals' lead to 7-4, at Busch Stadium.
But Wainwright's night generally was a good one as he sought his first victory since Sept. 24, 2010. He left having given up only five hits while walking only one in seven innings
Holliday's HR gives him three-hit night
Matt Holliday, who began the night at .215 and who had been nothing for his last eight, posted only his second three-hit game of the season when he launched a 436-foot homer to left center in the sixth inning to raise the Cardinals' lead over Pittsburgh to 7-2 at Busch Stadium.
Holliday's fifth homer of the year marked the first time this season the Pirates had given up as many as seven runs in a game. They have allowed more than five runs twice and scored more than five only once in their first 23 games.
Freese's 6th HR puts Cards ahead
After going two for 14 with men in scoring position on Sunday and nothing for their first five tonight, the Cardinals ended that slide in resounding fashion.
David Freese, with runners at first and second and one out in the fifth, smacked a 413-foot, three-run homer to right field off Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton to break a 2-2 tie and highlight a four-run fifth inning as the Cardinals took a 6-2 lead at Busch Stadium.
Matt Holliday singled for the second time with one out and Carlos Beltran walked before Freese, who had been two for 11 against Morton, drilled his club-leading sixth homer of the season. The Cardinals chased Morton later in the inning after a single by Allen Craig, who got his first hit since coming off the disabled list.
Craig, who had struck twice in a row, singled to score Yadier Molina, who had been credited with a double when Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata lost Molina's liner in the lights.
Adam Wainwright is line for his first win of the season and first since Sept. 24, 2010.
Error helps Cards tie lead
A boot by Pittsburgh shortstop Clint Barmes, who, for no apparent good reason, rushed to make a play on Adam Wainwright's fourth-inning roller, enabled the Cardinals to catch the Pirates at 2-2 in the fourth inning tonight at Busch Stadium.
Yadier Molina singled and, without opposition, stole his third base of the season. Allen Craig and Skip Schumaker both struck out and then Barmes, moving in for Wainwright's grounder, allowed it to bounce off him into the outfield as Molina scored.
Tabata HR puts Pirates ahead
Jose Tabata's first homer of the season, a two-run, third-inning drive into the Pittsburgh bullpen in left field, gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead against the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright tonight at Busch Stadium.
Wainwright appeared as if he was about to pitch around a leadoff double in the inning by Rod Barajas, who hit the center-field wall with his liner. Pitcher Charlie Morton moved Barajas to third with a sacrifice bunt but Wainwright made Alex Presley his fourth strikeout victim.
Then, Tabata, who had had only three runs batted in for the season, connected against a flat Wainwright offering. The homer was the sixth allowed by Wainwright in 22 innings.
The Cardinals loaded the bases with two out in their third on a bunt single by Jon Jay, extending his hitting streak to 10 games; a single by Matt Holliday; a stolen base by Holliday and a walk to Carlos Beltran. But David Freese flied out.
Wainwright has rare lead
Adam Wainwright, seeking his first win since Sept. 24, 2010, was staked to a rare lead in the first inning.
The Cardinals, who hadn't scored a run while Wainwright in his first three starts and for six innings of his fourth one, got a 1-0 jump on the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Rafael Furcal doubled down the right-field, went to third on Jon Jay's perfect sacrifice bunt and scored on an infield grounder. Matt Holliday, who hit the grounder that scored Furcal, strangely was safe at first as first-base umpire Angel Campos ruled that Pirates first baseman Garrett Jones did not have control of the ball long enough before he dropped the throw from second baseman Neil Walker.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle argued exasperatedly but briefly. Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton then struck out the next two hitters, Carlos Beltran and David Freese.
Wainwright pitched around a two-out triple by Andrew McCutchen in the first and struck out two of the three men he faced in the second.
Craig returns at 1B
Fresh off a two-homer night in Memphis, Allen Craig was activated by the Cardinals and will start at first base in tonight's opener of a three-game series against Pittsburgh at Busch Stadium.
Craig, who hit .357 with three homers in 28 at-bats during his rehab assignments, will bat seventh.
Outfielder Erik Komatsu was designated for assignment to make roster space for Craig, who had right knee surgery in November and was slated to be out four to six months. By appearing tonight, Craig will be more than two weeks ahead of the high side of the medical estimate.
“I’ve been feeling good in the (batter’s) box for a couple of nights,” said Craig. “Last night was a good night to end my rehab assignment.”
Manager Mike Matheny said he would be careful about playing Craig too much at the beginnng of his season, especially a day game after a night game, meaning Craig likely next would play Thursday against Pittsburgh lefthander Erik Bedard and not on Wednesday night.
Craig has not played outfield in his rehabilitation and Matheny said he didn’t plan to do that either although Craig said, “I don’t think that’s a concern at all. I feel like I can play every day.
“Now that I’ve had surgery, I feel like I’m in a better place and I can do a lot more things than I could before.”
Matheny said the need for Craig in the outfield wasn’t as great as the immediate need at first base, where Lance Berkman has missed much of the season with a strained left calf. The manager said he was well satisfied with regular outfielders Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran.
“There’s no reason to push that (outfield for Craig) when you don’t have to,” said Matheny. "But when everybody comes back it will be pretty creative how to get everybody in there. That's a great problem to have."
The last time Craig appeared on the Busch Stadium grass, he was catching the last out of Game 7 in the World Series after hitting a home run and taking another homer away defensively earlier in the game.
“Of course, I’ll be thinking about that,” said Craig, who admitted he had missed just being around the team during his long rehabilitation process.
“This is a tough group not to be around,” he said. “A lot of my closest friends are here. I love the game and I love to play and it’s no fun watching it.”
Matheny was hopeful that Komatsu would first clear waivers and then not be reclaimed by the Washington Nationals, from whom the Cardinals drafted him last December. But Matheny was also doubtful that the Cardinals could retain the lefthanded hitter.
"He's going to get snatched up by somebody," Matheny said. "From what I've seen, I'd like to have the kid around, so I'm sure somebody else sees the same thing.
"That was a tough conversation to have," said Matheny, "I'm very excited about what he did.
"He's a big-league player. He did a little bit of everything. We walked into spring training and we didn't know what we were going to get but we saw a very well-rounded player.
Berkman not likely to come off DL Friday
Berkman, who has been on the disabled list since April 19 and is eligible to come off on Friday (May 4), said his coming off "is a possibility. I would say it’s not a lead-pipe cinch.”
Matheny sounded even less optimistic.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten to the point where they’ve given me a time-line date," said Matheny. "But I haven’t heard that’s the case, that he would be off on the 4th."
Berkman first hurt his left leg on April 10 and returned for 1 1/2 games before getting injured again on April 18. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list the next day and has been rehabilitating ever since.
“I’m near the tail end (of the rehabilitation), but I’m probably not quite there yet.
“I’ve jogged a little but I haven’t done any real strenuous running,” said Berkman, who allowed that he was even sore after his jogging session on Monday.
“Hopefully, in the next couple of days I’ll be able to do some of that but I don’t know exactly what the schedule will entail," Berkman said.
“It’s come back. It’s gotten better from the first time I pulled it. A lot of times when you’re dealing with a muscle injury, it can make rapid improvement and then hit a plateau, so you just don’t know how long it’s going to take to get it back to 100 percent. Right now, I’d say it’s probably 85 percent but before I go back out there, I’m going to get it as close to 100 percent as I can because the last thing I want to have happen is that you go out there too soon and end up right here (on the disabled list) again.
“The whole point of this DL stint is to get this behind us. I’ve got to run full speed and not have it feel bad the next day.”
1. Furcal, SS
2. Jay, CF
3. Holliday, LF
4. Beltran, RF
5. Freese, 3B
6. Molina, C
7. Craig, 1B
8. Schumaker, 2B
9. Wainwright, P
1. Presley, LF
2. Tabata, RF
3. McCutchen, CF
4. Jones, 1B
5. Walker, 2B
6. Alvarez, 3B
7. Barmes, SS
8. Barajas, C
9. Morton, P
* * *
Cards activate Craig; Komatsu DFA'ed
To clear a spot on the 25-man roster for outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig, the Cardinals have designated outfielder Erik Komatsu for assignment.
Craig will join the team this afternoon and be active for tonight's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Komatsu, a Rule 5 selection, will pass through waivers before the Cardinals must offer him back to his former team, the Washington Nationals.
The 28 other teams will have the opportunity to pick up Komatsu and, per Rule 5 requirements, place him on their 25-man active roster.
The Cardinals can also work out a trade with the Nationals to retain the rights of Komatsu and then option him to Class AAA Memphis.
Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch staff contributed to this story.