Pirates 3, Cardinals 1
No more playing the patsy on the road for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Kevin Correia and two relievers combined to slow St. Louis, Neil Walker hit his second home run and the Pirates beat the Cardinals 3-1 Wednesday to wrap up an opening trip to remember.
The Pirates won their second road series of the season, now having taken two of three from St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs. Last year, Pittsburgh was a majors-worst 17-64 on the road on the way to a 57-105 record overall, and in 2009 they only won 22 games on the road.
So far this year, it's a different story. A road to respectability, in fact.
''We're not going to lower the bar based on other people's opinions of who we are or what we are,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We've got to get championship-level execution and we've got to have those standards.''
Ryan Doumit drove in his first run of the year and Lyle Overbay had two hits and an RBI for the Pirates, who won consecutive road series for the first time since Aug. 20-26, 2007, at Colorado and Houston.
''It's definitely been starting pitching,'' Walker said. ''But it's only six games. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves.''
Chris Carpenter (0-1) allowed one earned run in six innings but left trailing 2-0 and lost to the Pirates for only the second time in 13 career decisions. He gave up eight hits, and at least one every inning.
Skip Schumaker had two hits for St. Louis, which totaled 15 runs in an opening 2-4 homestand. Cleanup hitter Matt Holliday missed the last five while recuperating from an appendectomy and is expected to rejoin the lineup during a 10-game West Coast trip that starts Friday.
Manager Tony La Russa's temper flared during his televised postgame news conference after fielding what he believed to be one too many questions about the shaky offense, and he ended up stalking off the podium.
La Russa mentioned every regular during his closing rant.
''It's the first week of the season,'' La Russa said. ''Now you're going tell me that Yadier (Molina) doesn't drive in big runs? Are you going to tell me Albert (Pujols) can't hit? Are you going to tell the second baseman and shortstops haven't hit? David Freese, you don't think he's going to hit? You think Matt's going to hit? You think Colby's (Rasmus) going to hit? You think (Lance) Berkman's going to hit?''
La Russa blamed a reporter who asked if a Cardinals' offseason goal was to beef up an offense that failed during a second-half fade to second place in the NL Central last year.
''The answer's no to all those things? I mean, did you accomplish your goal?'' La Russa said. ''Three or four times you ask, so I get excited, get upset? I mean that's not fair, that really isn't.''
The Cardinals were 9 for 44 (.205) with runners in scoring position the opening homestand and 17 for 82 (.207) with men on base.
Correia (2-0) allowed five hits in seven innings, Evan Meek bounced back from a pair of shaky outings with a perfect eighth against the top of the lineup and Joel Hanrahan allowed Molina's two-out RBI double in the ninth before finishing for his fourth save in four chances.
''I was keeping the ball pretty much where I wanted to. It was nice,'' Correia said. ''I didn't make a lot of mistakes. The hits they got came on pretty decent pitches.''
Only three Cardinals reached scoring position against Correia, who joined the Pirates as a free agent in the offseason. Correia, who was a 24th-round draft pick by St. Louis in 2001 but did not sign, is 2-2 against the Cardinals.
Pirates starters have a 2.52 ERA heading into their home opener Thursday against the Colorado Rockies, who were managed to the 2007 World Series by Clint Hurdle. Colorado is now managed by Jim Tracy, who was the Pirates manager in 2007.
The Pirates won despite going 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position and stranding a season-high 11 runners.
Pujols' awkward flip to first after sprawling to snare Overbay's infield hit led to an unearned run in the fourth. Overbay went to second on the off-target throw and scored on Doumit's double.
Walker hit a grand slam in the opener and entered the game leading the NL with seven RBIs. He homered just inside the foul pole in right with one out in the fifth to make it 2-0.
NOTES: Carpenter reached 1,500 career strikeouts against Josh Rodriguez to end the second. ... Pujols has 994 assists at 1B, third among active players. ... Doumit received medical attention on the field but kept catching after getting struck on the side of the head by Molina's follow-throw swing in the seventh. ... The Cardinals had two nice defensive plays to end the third, with 2B Schumaker diving to his left to rob Walker and 3B Daniel Descalso diving right to deny McCutchen.