Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's a Blast for Alvarez Third Homer in Two Nights Backs Second Shutout in Two Games Pirates 5, Cardinals 0

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's a Blast for Alvarez Third Homer in Two Nights Backs Second Shutout in Two Games Pirates 5, Cardinals 0

Article excerpt

It might have taken more than a month, but Wandy Rodriguez's first win as a Pirates starter could not have come on a more important night.

Rodriguez allowed three hits over six scoreless innings, and Pedro Alvarez boosted the Pirates at the plate for the second consecutive game as they beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-0, Wednesday at PNC Park.

With the victory, the Pirates (70-60) now trail the Cardinals (71- 59) by one game in the race for the final National League wild-card playoff spot.

"For us to respond the way that we did, I'm very proud of the effort," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I've been proud of the effort all year long, and, obviously, the last two nights' results are what we're looking for."

The win sealed the Pirates' first series victory since they took two of three games from the Cardinals in St. Louis, their only two series wins this month. It also gave the Pirates an 8-7 season record against the Cardinals, which would give the Pirates home- field advantage in a play-in game if the teams tied for that final wild-card spot.

But recent history should temper enthusiasm. After the series victory against the Cardinals earlier this month, the Pirates dropped six of their next seven games, turning a two-game advantage over St. Louis into a three-game deficit.

After Rodriguez left the game, Tony Watson, Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan completed the second consecutive shutout victory, a feat the Pirates had not accomplished since July 18 and 19 of last year against the Cincinnati Reds.

"You go against that offense and you put 18 zeroes on the board in 18 innings, I couldn't be any prouder of them," Hurdle said.

Hanrahan said the pitching staff's recent success is an encouraging sign.

"When we win, we pitch well," Hanrahan said. "That's what kept us going through the first half. We were throwing the ball well."

Ironically, Rodriguez, whom the Pirates acquired in a trade with the Houston Astros July 24, earned his first Pirate win as a starter against the same team he beat to earn his first win as a Pirate. …

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