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Loss prolongs August swoon for Pirates

| Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, 11:08 p.m.
Christopher Horner
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen drives in Jose Tabata for the team's first run Monday August 27, 2012 against St. Louis at PNC Park. Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review

For all its importance, Monday's game between the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals began with a surprising number of empty seats at PNC Park — attendance was 16,700 — and was delayed mid-game by rain that fell off and on all night.

The Pirates also fell, 4-3, despite scoring the first two runs of the game off Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse (14-2), who continued his scorching late-summer performance with his eighth win in a row.

The Cardinals scored two runs in the fifth inning to tied it, 2-2, then added two more in the sixth off A.J. Burnett (15-5) just before the rain delay ended both starters' evenings.

“It obviously was one of (Burnett's) strengths most of this season was shutdown innings,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He was as good as anybody in the league. … At the end of the day we were one run short.”

Clint Barmes hit a one-out RBI double in the seventh to pull within 4-3. But the Pirates left two on in the eighth when Josh Harrison grounded out, and went quietly in the ninth.

The Cardinals are in second place in the NL wild-card standings with a three-game lead over the Pirates, who are 9-16 this month.

The game started as a case of who would blink first — Lohse or Burnett, who's been the man most likely deliver a strong performance when the Pirates needed it this season.

Lohse gave up consecutive singles to Jose Tabata, Travis Snider and Andrew McCutchen to start the fourth. McCutchen's RBI single gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead, and Harrison's sacrifice fly made it 2-0.

Burnett gave up a single to Yadier Molina leading off the fifth. Molina scored from first on a double by Skip Schumaker that landed between Tabata and McCutchen in left center.

“He was able to score off that, so it's a little frustrating,” McCutchen said.

Lohse bounced an RBI single over Burnett's head to score Schumaker and tie the game. Harrison saved a run with a nice relay throw to nab Lohse at home to end the inning.

The Cardinals went ahead in the sixth when Matt Holliday hit a leadoff home run. Molina added a sacrifice fly.

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7980 or kprice@tribweb.com.

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