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Pujols flashes the leather at first base

ST LOUIS -- Saturday night was all right for fighting for Elton John.

But Saturday hasn't been all right for runs, at least in August, for the National League's highest scoring team.

St. Louis was shut out for the second straight Saturday as it fell to Pittsburgh, 7-0, at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals, who lost to Chicago, 3-0, on Aug. 20, scored just three runs in their four Saturday games in August and were outscored 17-3.

Pirates right-hander Brad Lincoln controlled the Cardinals' lineup Saturday, allowing just six hits in his six innings of work. He pitched out of jams in the fifth and sixth innings as the Cardinals stranded five runners.

"I hadn't seen him a lot," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of the 26-year-old right-hander. "He made some good pitches. He had a nice assortment and mixed things up, and [catcher Ryan Doumit] handled him well."

Lincoln threw 55 strikes in his 78 pitches.

"They have a lineup that can hurt you really bad if you get behind in the count," Lincoln said. "I try to get ahead in the count and use that to my advantage, and then work inside. For me, it's just using the fastball. It doesn't always have to be a perfect pitch.

"You have to have confidence going out there. You have to believe in yourself. If you go out there with a doubt in your mind that you're not going to get the job done, bad things will happen. You just have to go out there and attack and be who you are."

And Lincoln was good enough to record his first win of the season and just the second in his career. His other win came on June 30, 2010, against the Cubs.

"A superb outing," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "[Lincoln was] very efficient, worked inside extremely well again. Good breaking ball, good changeup -- outstanding."

Daniel McCutchen and Chris Resop preserved the shutout as they combined to allow only one hit in the final three innings.

It was a rough outing for Lincoln's counterpart, Chris Carpenter. He allowed nine hits -- five of them for extra bases -- and six runs in his five innings in his 28th start of the season. It was only the second time in his last 14 starts that Carpenter has allowed five or more earned runs.

"Carp is usually a pitch-maker," La Russa said. "He gave up some runs with two outs and when he was ahead in the count a couple of times. He just had a rough day, and the other guy pitched good against us."

Carpenter, who took a shutout into the ninth inning in his previous start against the Dodgers, said he felt good coming into the game.

"I made some good pitches and I made some bad pitches," Carpenter said. "I didn't control the counts when I had to and left the ball up too many times. They just beat me. You have to give them credit. I just have to do a better job the next time."

There is little margin for error for the Cardinals the rest of the way, as their deficit in the NL Central swelled to double digits with the loss.

The focus now for the Cardinals is on the series finale Sunday against the Pirates.

"I feel like we will grind every day," Carpenter said. "Tomorrow is a big day. We can win the series tomorrow and then go into Milwaukee with a chance to gain some ground. I'm going to do everything I can to help that out."

Catcher Yadier Molina, who was the only Cardinals player with a multihit game with a pair of singles, has similar thoughts.

"We are going to come out every day ready to play the game," Molina said. "We aren't going to back off. We have to come in tomorrow and try to win the series."

Kyle Lohse looks for career win No. 100 when he faces Jeff Karstens and the Pirates on Sunday. Comments