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Duncan blasts 3-run double to lift Cards over Pirates

• Turning point: The Cardinals loaded the bases in the third on David Eckstein's single and walks to Rick Ankiel and Jim Edmonds. Duncan, who had been 0-for-13, cleared them with an opposite-field drive into the left-field corner.

• Unsung hero: Russell Branyan hit his 10th homer in his first start since being acquired from the Phillies four days earlier. He hit seven for the Padres and two for the Phillies and is 4-for-11 for his career at Busch Stadium.

• Did you see that? A runaway squirrel emerged from the Cardinals' bullpen and wandered the warning track. Stadium personnel captured it in a barrel near the Pirates' dugout, the squirrel quickly jumped out into the stands, and was eventually caught again and then released outside the stadium.

-- ESPN.com news services

Cardinals 6, Pirates 2

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Joel Pineiro may have found himself a home in
the St. Louis Cardinals rotation.

Pineiro, stuck in the Boston Red Sox bullpen before his trade to
St. Louis on July 30, won for the fourth time in six starts as the
St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 on Tuesday
night.

The Cardinals moved back over .500 with the win and closed to
one game behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. The Brewers are
ahead of the Cardinals, a half-game behind the Cubs.

Pineiro (4-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"He's got good stuff," pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "As
soon as he believes in it as much as I do he'll be a better
pitcher.

"He still thinks he has to do more to be a good pitcher and
when he realizes that he's not going to be in the fifth inning with
90-some pitches."

Pineiro has a 3.63 ERA in seven starts since joining the
Cardinals. As a reliever with the Red Sox, Pineiro had a 5.03 ERA
in 31 games.

"I've put my name back on track and I'm reviving myself as a
starter," Pineiro said. "That's all I want to do. You keep the
damage to a minimum."

Chris Duncan hit a three-run double to back Pineiro.

"It felt good to contribute," said Duncan, who had been in an
0-for-13 slump. "I've been struggling and grinding, trying to get
through it."

Russell Branyan homered for St. Louis in his first start since
being acquired from the Phillies four days earlier. Not known as a
great fielder, he also made three nice plays at third base, each
time on well-hit grounders by Josh Pearce. Rick Ankiel and Jim
Edmonds had an RBI apiece in the first inning for the Cardinals,
who have won five of six.

Matt Morris (8-9) struggled in his second start in St. Louis as
a visiting player. Morris, whose 101 wins rank 10th on the
Cardinals' career list, lasted five innings and gave up five runs
and five hits.

"They were just trying to hit fastballs the other way and
sitting on some breaking stuff," Morris said. "We scored two runs
and then give up three with two outs, that's tough to take."

Nyjer Morgan and Jose Bautista each drove in a run in the third
for the Pirates, who have lost six of seven. Jack Wilson singled
twice, giving him six hits the last two games.

But Pittsburgh stranded 10 runners, leaving two on in four
innings and the bases loaded in the eighth.

"That game basically boils down to the fact that they took the
big at-bat with two outs and the bases loaded in the third inning,
and we had several opportunities in need of a two-out hit and
weren't able to get it," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "When
you've got people on, you need to get a hit here or there."

David Eckstein and Ankiel doubled to open the bottom of the
first, and Ankiel eventually scored on Edmonds' sacrifice fly for a
2-0 lead. The Pirates bunched three hits and a walk in the third,
with Morgan getting a run-scoring groundout and Bautista hitting an
RBI double to tie it at 2.

The Cardinals loaded the bases in the third on Eckstein's single
and walks to Ankiel and Edmonds. Duncan cleared them with an
opposite-field drive into the left-field corner on a full count
fastball.

"I was just basically looking for something out over the plate,
and I thought he would stay soft with me, but he fell behind,"
Duncan said. "I just wanted to be aggressive after he fell
behind."

Branyan hit his 10th homer off Franquelis Osoria, connecting for
his third team this season, in the sixth for a 6-2 cushion. He hit
seven for the Padres and two for the Phillies, and is 4-for-11 for
his career at Busch Stadium.

The Pirates had the bases loaded with two outs in the eighth
before Ryan Franklin got pinch hitter Nate McLouth on a broken-bat
popup to second base. Miguel Cairo spread his legs apart after the
catch to avoid the shattered bat, and Franklin worked a perfect
ninth for his first career save.

Game notes
A runaway squirrel entertained a sellout crowd during the
early innings, emerging from the Cardinals' bullpen and wandering
the warning track. Stadium personnel captured it in a barrel near
the Pirates' dugout, the squirrel quickly jumped out into the
stands, and was eventually caught again and then released outside
the stadium. ... The Cardinals are 16-5 in their last 21 home
games. ... Freddy Sanchez, coming off consecutive three-hit games,
was 0-for-3 with two walks. ... Albert Pujols, who entered 6-for-9
with two homers against Morris, was a quiet 0-for-3 on Tuesday.