Wilson circled the bases on a bizarre play in the bottom of the
ninth that began with his apparent double and the Pirates, held
hitless into the seventh by Jeff Suppan, rallied to beat the St.
Louis Cardinals 2-1 on Monday night.
Wilson hit a drive down the left-field line for his NL-leading
104th hit and only the Pirates' third of the game with one out
against Julian Tavarez (2-1). Thinking no one was covering second,
Wilson kept running on the play.
First baseman Albert Pujols moved over to cut off left fielder
Ray Lankford's throw and had plenty of time to get Wilson at third.
But Pujols' throw sailed wide of the bag and down a dugout tunnel,
sending Wilson home with a run that probably prevented him from
being fined. He was credited with a triple on the play.
"It was like a play in T-ball where you hit the ball and just
keep running," Wilson said. "When I came around second, I saw him
(Pujols) moving in and my heart sank and I thought, `I've just made
the stupidest play ever."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa must have felt much the same way
about Lankford's throw.
"That was a mistake," he said. "He (Wilson) did some
aggressive baserunning, forced a mistake and won a game, but the
(initial) throw's got to go to third base."
After the Pirates pulled out a game in which it once seemed they
might not get a hit, manager Lloyd McClendon had some advice for
Wilson: Don't do it again.
"Jack is an exciting player with a lot of energy," he said.
"He makes things happen -- sometimes in some very weird ways."
Jose Mesa (1-0) got the victory with a scoreless ninth after
starters Suppan and Kris Benson each allowed one run over eight
innings. Suppan didn't allow a hit until Craig Wilson's
opposite-field double with two outs in the seventh, just ahead of
Jason Bay's tying RBI double.
The Pirates won their third in a row but only their fourth in 11
games, while the division-leading Cardinals lost for the first time
in six games and only the eighth time in 32 games. Pittsburgh has
the majors' worst home record (12-22) and the Cardinals own the
best road record (26-13).
Suppan looked sharp from the start -- he was 3-1 with a 3.21 ERA
in his seven most recent starts -- and had only one hard-hit ball
against him until Wilson's drive into the right-center gap.
"After Wilson doubled, I called (catcher) Mike (Matheny) out
just to regroup -- we were winning the game," said Suppan, who
spent most of last season with Pittsburgh. "I was trying to throw
a sinker away to Bay, but I ended up throwing it down the middle
and there's that run. There's really not much to say after that."
"What we learned when he was with us was if you don't get him
early, he really gets it going," McClendon said of Suppan.
Benson got off to a shaky start, loading the bases with one out
in the first before escaping. He ran into trouble again in the
second when Matheny singled with one out and Tony Womack doubled
him home, but the right-hander allowed only two hits over his final
Benson appeared to be in trouble when Rolen and Edgar Renteria
singled to start the sixth. But Renteria was thrown out trying to
advance to second after right fielder Craig Wilson overthrew the
base and So Taguchi grounded into a double play.
Benson, unsigned past this season and rumored in trade talks,
gave up six hits, four in the first two innings, walked three and
struck out one.
Suppan was trying to beat the Pirates for the third
straight time this season. ... Heavy rain resulted in a 30-minute
delay at the start, but the sun was out when play began. ... The
Pirates haven't had a no-hitter pitched against them since the
Cardinals' Bob Gibson beat them 11-0 on Aug. 14, 1971, barely a
year after the now-demolished Three Rivers Stadium opened. It
remains the only no-hitter pitched against the Pirates in
Pittsburgh since they became a major league team in 1887. ... The
Cardinals left five on base in the first two innings but only one
over the final seven innings. ... St. Louis had won 14 of its
previous 16 in Pittsburgh and is 22-7 there since PNC Park opened