for this game

Looper sharp as Cardinals complete sweep of Pirates

May 25, 2007 - 6:30 AM ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Braden Looper continues to make a strong transition to the starting rotation.

Looper pitched six strong innings as the St. Louis Cardinals completed their second series sweep of the season with a 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday.

Yadier Molina had two hits - extending his hitting streak to 15 games - and drove in a pair of runs for the Cardinals, who had lost five in a row entering their three-game series with the Pirates.

"I'm just trying to wait for my pitch and make a good swing," Molina said. "That is it. That is the basics. I am learning to wait for my pitch. If it is not there, I do not swing at it."

"There is nobody in the National League that is playing better baseball than our catcher, at that position," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. "He did catch a one-run game over nine innings and swung the bat real well."

Looper (6-3) surrendered just one run and three hits in six innings, striking out two and walking a pair. The career reliever picked up his second win this season against Pittsburgh, and has held the opposition to three runs or less in eight of his 10 starts.

"Once we got the two runs, for me that was huge," Looper said. "I felt like I was able to come after hitters a little more. I do not want to say you relax, but at least you know if you give up a wind-blown solo home run, you are not going to lose. So it definitely makes it easier when you score runs. You need to score to win, so it's good to have them on the board early."

"They have a lefthander with quality stuff," La Russa said. "So Looper had to shut them down and he did."

Three relievers bridged the gap to closer Jason Isringhausen, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save.

"I see a lot more smiles on guys' faces and music in the locker room," Isringhausen said. "It is not quiet, so that is a start."

Pirates starter Tom Gorzelanny struggled throughout his start, yielding two runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. The promising young lefthander left the game in the sixth after taking a comebacker off his pitching hand.

"It is just one of those things where the ball was dropping in, and you can't really control it," Gorzelanny said. "You feel like you make a good pitch, and then it falls in and they score runs. It's just how that game works. You just have to tip your cap to them."

Aaron Miles' line drive struck Gorzelanny square on the thumb, causing a contusion. Although X-rays were negative it was not immediately known if the 24-year-old would miss his next start.

"We dodged a bullet because of where that bone is right there," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "Obviously it was a very scary moment for us. As we were standing there he was starting to get fairly black and blue."

Gorzelanny entered Thursday's contest with a 1-0 record and a 0.59 ERA in two starts this season against the Cardinals, but ran into trouble in the second frame when he yielded back-to-back singles to Scott Rolen and So Taguchi to lead off the inning.

Rolen was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double, but Taguchi came around to score on Molina's double. Miles followed with a single to right, and the slow-footed Molina beat the throw to the plate to open up a 2-0 advantage.

"It is nice to be hitting the ball a little better," said Rolen, who has hit .270 over his last 13 games after batting .200 through his first 27. "But I thought that ball was deeper than it was and he (Pirate center fielder Chris Duffy) made a good throw."

Pittsburgh got a run back in the sixth when Jose Bautista led off with a solo homer off Looper - his third blast of the season.

The Pirates threatened in the seventh, loading the bases against relievers Russ Springer and Tyler Johnson, but Bautista grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.

"We find ourselves in baseball games every day with an opportunity to win," Tracy said after a series in which his team went 0-for-12 in two-out RBI situations. "Obviously, if we are going to get where we want to be, there are some things that need to happen offensively.

"As we continue on here, we just have to keep battling. It is games out there like today and last night. There are all kinds of opportunities for us if offensively we can get something going, here and there."

"Sometimes it is good pitching and sometimes it is not very good hitting, and I think right now I think it is a little bit of both," left fielder Jason Bay said. "We have regressed a little bit."

St. Louis added an insurance run in the eighth when Rolen walked, stole second and moved to third on Taguchi's sacrifice bunt before scoring on Molina's sacrifice fly.

"I just wanted something out over the plate to drive," Molina said. "He threw me a slider, cutter, and I made a pretty good swing and drove it that way.

"You score an insurance run in the eighth inning without a hit that is winning baseball. And, we have an elite closer. If we take the lead enough we can get back in this thing."








  • NL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    PITTSBURGH 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 5 0
    ST LOUIS 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 x 3 10 0 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: PIT - TOM GORZELANNY, JONAH BAYLISS (6TH), JOHN GRABOW (7TH), BRIAN
    ROGERS (7TH) AND RONNY PAULINO
    STL - BRADEN LOOPER, RUSS SPRINGER (7TH), TYLER JOHNSON
    (7TH), T

    May 24 4:01 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY YADIER MOLINA SCORED SCOTT ROLEN.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1
    ST LOUIS 3 BOTTOM, 8TH
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: A MILES (.291, 3-FOR-3, RBI)

    Pirates vs. CardinalsMay 24 3:51 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY JOSE BAUTISTA (3) TO LEFT WITH 0 OUT IN
    THE 6TH OFF BRADEN LOOPER.
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 1, ST LOUIS 2
    DUE UP FOR PITTSBURGH: C DUFFY (.231, 1-FOR-2)

    Pirates vs. CardinalsMay 24 2:37 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY AARON MILES SCORED YADIER MOLINA.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, A MILES ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    ST LOUIS 2 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: B LOOPER (.200, 0 HR, 2 RBI)

    Pirates vs. CardinalsMay 24 1:41 PM


  • NL
    AT ST LOUIS - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY YADIER MOLINA SCORED SO TAGUCHI.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, Y MOLINA ON SECOND, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: PITTSBURGH 0
    ST LOUIS 1 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR ST LOUIS: A MILES (.263, 0 HR, 6 RBI)

    Pirates vs. CardinalsMay 24 1:38 PM