New-Look Pirates And Cardinals Teams Face Off

Pittsburgh Pirates (36-66) at St. Louis Cardinals (57-46), 7:15 p.m.

Sports Network | July 31, 2010

 

(Sports Network) - Though the lead is slim, the St. Louis Cardinals are back in first place in the National League Central. Staying there could prove difficult if Jeff Suppan can't turn things around.

Suppan tries again tonight for his first victory of 2010 in the second contest of a three-game series with thePittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.

Suppan is 0-4 with a 4.75 earned run average in seven starts since joining the Cardinals after getting released by the Brewers, and 0-6 with a 6.18 ERA overall this season. The 35-year-old righty lost his most recent start last Friday versus the Cubs, yielding five runs on 10 hits over six innings.

Suppan is battling to keep his rotation spot and draws a good opponent tonight. He is 14-3 with a 4.35 ERA in 25 career games, all but one starts, versus the Pirates.

St. Louis took last night's opener with Pittsburgh, 1-0, in 10 innings for just its third win in eight games. It was still enough to move them a half- game ahead of Cincinnati for first place in the NL Central.

The Cardinals plated the winning run with one out in the 10th inning, as pinch-hitter Ryan Ludwick led off the frame with a double and then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Brendan Ryan then came through with a sharp grounder to second that Pittsburgh's Neil Walker had trouble handling, allowing Ludwick to cross the plate.

"I didn't think I was going to get a good pitch to hit," Ryan told St. Louis' website, "but I wanted to be aggressive on the first good one."

The game featured a pitching duel between the Cards' Chris Carpenter and Jeff Karstens of the Pirates after the start of game was delayed by two hours and 20 minutes due to rain.

Carpenter allowed five hits over eight innings, while Karstens yielded seven hits over six frames.

"It's just a solid game that went their way," said Pirates manager John Russell on the Cards' website. "It was unfortunate. [Carpenter] threw the ball outstanding. So did Jeff. It's going to come down to that one play or one big hit and they got it."

Pittsburgh, losers of two straight and six of its last eight, is expected to recall Daniel McCutchen from Triple-A Indianapolis to make the start tonight. The Pirates are in need of a starter after demoting Brad Lincoln to the minors earlier in the week.

The 27-year-old McCutchen is 1-4 with an 8.58 ERA this year and hasn't started with the big league club since July 7, when he allowed four runs on four hits and three walks over five innings of a loss to Houston. McCutchen gave up three homers in that outing and has yielded seven in his 10 games this season.

The righty is 0-3 with a 9.98 ERA on the road this season and has never before faced the Cardinals.

The Cardinals took two of three in Pittsburgh when the clubs met for the first time back from May 7-9. St. Louis won 10 of the 15 meetings a season ago.

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