Schmidt dominates Cardinals
ST. LOUIS – Jason Schmidt increased his trade value, Aramis Ramirez continued his productive second half and the Pirates proved they could beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
Schmidt pitched a one-hitter for seven innings, Ramirez hit a two-run homer and the Pirates beat the Cardinals for the first time since last season, scoring a 4-1 victory at Busch Stadium.
The Pirates had been 0-7 against the Cardinals this season and 0-11 dating to Aug. 22, 2000.
Kevin Young and Abraham Nunez also homered for the Pirates, who had been outscored by the Cardinals, 55-14, this year.
Exactly one week after Todd Ritchie nearly pitched a no-hitter, Schmidt briefly flirted with history. He didn’t give up a hit until the fifth, allowing a clean one-out single to Edgar Renteria.
That was the hit the Cardinals recorded until the Pirates’ bullpen took over in the eighth inning.
The Cardinals, who finished with two hits, scored a run on a wild pitch before Josias Manzanillo got the final four outs for his first save since June 30, 1994.
With the trade deadline looming 11 days away, Schmidt made what might have been one of his final starts for the Pirates. A free agent at the end of the season, Schmidt (6-5) increased his stock by pitching seven innings for the third consecutive start.
He struck out six batters, walked three and hit a batter.
The Cardinals got their second hit in the eighth when Bobby Bonilla greeted left-hander Scott Sauerbeck with a pinch-hit double. Sauerbeck got two outs but left with runners on first and third and Mark McGwire in the batter’s box.
A wild pitch by Manzanillo scored Bonilla from third. But Manzanillo sneaked an inside fastball past McGwire for a third strike to end the inning.
Cardinals starter Dustin Hermanson (7-8) tied a career high with nine strikeouts and gave up just four hits. But three of those hits were homers that accounted for all of the Pirates’ scoring.
Young hit a solo shot with one out in the fifth, Ramirez homered after Brian Giles walked in the seventh. Nunez hit a pinch-hit shot in the eighth.
The Pirates had a chance to break the scoreless game in the fourth inning. They received a break when Jack Wilson swung at strike-three pitch but reached safely when the ball got past catcher Mike Matheny for a passed ball.
Jason Kendall, who was 10 for 27 lifetime against Hermanson as he stepped in, singled to right, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.
Wilson moved to third base when he tagged up on Giles’ fly ball to center.
Up stepped Ramirez, who was in 9-for-14 tear with runners in scoring position and batting a league-leading .418 in that category.
Ramirez didn’t extend his run, bouncing a grounder to short that was turned into an inning-ending double play.
The first run, however, came in the fifth when Young homered into the Pirates’ bullpen with one out. It was his ninth homer.
Young is batting just .142 on the road. But of his 20 hits, five have been home runs.
Schmidt lost his no-hit bid in the fifth when Renteria lined a single to center.
Schmidt hit Matheny with a pitch, giving the Cardinals their first runner in scoring position.
Hermanson tried to sacrifice the runners to second and third, but he couldn’t get the bunt down and struck out.
Fernando Vina nearly tied the score with a flare down the left-field line. But the ball landed inches to the foul side of the chalk and skipped into the seats. Sent back to the plate, Vina flied to right for the third out.
In the sixth, Ramirez made a nice stop behind the third-base bag to take a hit away from Placido Polanco. In the seventh, he made an impact with his bat.
After Giles drew a leadoff walk, Ramirez hit Hermanson’s 3-2 pitch into the grassy area beyond the center field wall for his 19th homer and a 3-0 lead. Ramirez has eight RBI in nine games since the All-Star break.
Schmidt got three ground-ball outs in the seventh. Having watched Schmidt throw 112 pitches, Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon decided to go to his bullpen.
Nunez batted for Schmidt in the eighth and responded with the third homer of his career, a bolt to right field.
Warren Morris, called up from Class AAA Nashville before the game, started at second base and was 0 for 3. He will continue to play there until Pat Meares is activated from the disabled list.