The Bottom Line:

– The St. Louis Cardinals (71-57) defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates (68-60) on Monday night by a score of 4-3. They remain alone in the second wild card spot, extending their lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers to 2.5 games, and the Pirates to 3 games.

– Kyle Lohse pitched well for the Cardinals, giving up 2 runs over 5 innings. A half-hour rain delay caused him to have to leave after only 83 pitches.

– Five relievers out of the St. Louis bullpen patched together the rest of the game, with Lance Lynn giving up the only other Pirates run–which was unearned.

– The 2-0 lead that Pittsburgh got in the bottom of the fourth inning didn’t last long, with the Cardinals coming right back in the top of the next inning to tie the game up on a Skip Schumaker double and a Lohse single, to help out his own cause. After a Jon Jay flyout, Lohse actually ended up getting gunned down at home plate, trying to score on a Matt Carpenter double.

-Luckily, that wouldn’t end up mattering, after a Matt Holliday home run (24) and Yadier Molina sacrifice fly to right field in the sixth inning to put the Cardinals up 4-2 would be enough to fend off a Pirates rally in the seventh, and win the game 4-3.

This was a great way to start of the series for the Cards. They showed resilience to quickly tie the game up after going down 0-2 against the career renassaince season-having A.J. Burnett, and capitalized on a Clint Barmes throwing error in the sixth, which allowed Molina to eventually be able to cash in what would be the deciding run on his sac fly.

The Cards continue to play good baseball, and have now won 6 of 7 games. If they continue to play this well–knock on wood–they won’t need a miracle September comback (and equally miraculous collapse of a team ahead of them in the standings) in order to make the playoffs. They do still sit 6 games back of the Reds for the division, so a run at them might be possible, but the wild card is looking like the most likely scenario right now. That being said, it sure would be nice to somehow capture the Central and avoid the new one-game playoff that will be played between the wild card winners. We’ll take what we can get though.

What’s Next: The Cardinals will play the second game of their three game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday evening when Jake Westbrook takes on James McDonald. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Midwest and all pre and post game information can be found on CardsBlog.