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Marrero's RBIs help lift Cardinals at Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- Eli Marrero drove in four runs, and Albert Pujols hit a two-run homer in the first inning as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Saturday night.
Cardinals starter Woody Williams (2-0) allowed his first two homers this season, but yielded only one other hit over six-plus innings to win his seventh decision in a row dating to last season.
Williams, who spent more than five weeks on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his left side, combined with three relievers on a three-hitter. The Cardinals bounced back from a 5-2 loss Friday to win for the sixth time in seven games. They haven't lost consecutive games since May 6-7, winning 13 of 16 to climb back into the NL Central race.
Pujols made sure Williams would pitch with a lead, following Jimmy Anderson's two-out walk of J.D. Drew with a homer that ricocheted off a left-field walkway -- a drive estimated at 445 feet for his eighth of the season.
Chad Hermansen opened the bottom of the first with a home run to nearly the identical spot, the first Pittsburgh hitter to lead off with a homer since Adrian Brown on Sept. 19, 2000.
But Williams, making his fourth start, settled down to limit Pittsburgh to one more hit until Brian Giles' two-run, two-out homer in the sixth cut the lead to 5-3. Jack Wilson walked ahead of Giles' 11th homer and fourth in six games.
Just before that, the Cardinals opened a four-run lead in the top half on consecutive singles by Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Edgar Renteria, and Marrero's bases-loaded double to right-center. Marrero added another RBI double in the eighth off reliever Joe Beimel.
Marrero's seven starts are the fewest of the Cardinals' three-man catching rotation with Mike Matheny (27 starts) and Mike DiFelice (15 starts), but he has made the most of them by hitting .367 (11-of-30) with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals kept the pressure on Anderson (4-6) throughout the game, matching a season high with five stolen bases in five chances -- several with such big leads that catcher Jason Kendall didn't even bother throwing. Renteria easily stole second after his one-out single in the eighth, putting him in position to score on Marrero's second double.
Williams, 4-0 in his career in seven games against Pittsburgh, was lifted after hitting Rob Mackowiak with a pitch to start the seventh. Gene Stechschulte came on to get Kendall to hit into a double play while working one scoreless inning.
Mike Timlin pitched the eighth, and Jason Isringhausen finished for his 13th save and his 10th in May.