This time, the Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t put up much of a fight against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ray Lankford hit a two-run homer in the first, an inning before Pittsburgh starter Jason Schmidt was ejected, and Dmitri Young had four hits and four runs batted in as St. Louis defeated the Pirates, 10-0, Wednesday night.
The Pirates, who had surprisingly led the NL Central for five consecutive days, fell into second place as Houston beat Cincinnati, 5-2. The Cardinals moved within two games of the lead with their seventh victory in 11 games.
Young had four hits with a double and Mike Difelice, who touched off a benches-clearing brawl the last time the teams met, added a two-run single in a four-run fifth inning. Lankford also had an RBI single.
The Cardinals, who beat Colorado, 15-4, on Tuesday, have won their last two games by a combined 25-4.
Schmidt (1-4) was ejected by umpire Jerry Layne in the second for hitting Difelice in the ribs with a pitch. Layne apparently felt the pitcher was retaliating for the catcher’s fight with Mark Johnson in the Pirates’ 3-2 victory May 21 at St. Louis.
Johnson struck Difelice in the face with an elbow as the two collided at home plate in that game, and both were ejected.
“I would have understood it if they had said something to us beforehand, but they didn’t,” Schmidt said. “I had totally forgotten about the fight. It was a freak of nature, because if it had been anybody other than [Difelice] that I hit, it [the ejection] probably wouldn’t have happened.”
Andy Benes, pitching in Pittsburgh for the first time since hurling the Cardinals’ division title-clinching 7-1 victory there on Sept. 24, was lifted after throwing 131 pitches, giving up five hits and walking four. He had 11 strikeouts, one short of his season high.
Benes (4-2) was particularly effective with runners in scoring position, stranding at least one in all but one inning and nine runners overall.
“To pitch the way I did and come out of there with six zeros is incredible,” Benes said. “It’s borderline miraculous.”
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
NEXT SERIES FOR DODGERS
WHO: St. Louis Cardinals
WHERE: Dodger Stadium
WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday, 7 p.m., Sunday, 1 p.m.