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Pirates Vs. Cardinals: Pittsburgh Trails 5-2 In Opening Game Of Critical Series With St. Louis

Who would have thought that the Pittsburgh Pirates would be playing a three-game set in late July with first place in the division at stake? Not many, that's for sure. Seriously, I wonder how many people, if any, put a wager on the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the NL Central prior to the start of this season. What must the odds have been? 500 to 1?

After winning two of three from the Cincinnati Reds, the Pirates now host the Cardinals for three games at PNC Park. Pittsburgh entered Friday's action at 51-45, tied with Milwaukee atop the NL Central standings, and one game clear of St. Louis who looks to wrangle first place away from the Buccos with a series win.

St. Louis currently leads Pittsburgh 5-2 in the top of the fourth inning. Pirates starter Paul Maholm got touched up for four runs in the opening frame, including a two-run shot by Albert Pujols, his 22nd. The Pirates trimmed the lead to 4-2 in the bottom half of the second, only to allow another run in the third. The Cardinals are currently batting in the top of the 4th inning, leading 5-2. Stay tuned for more updates throughout and after the game.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.