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Pirates Edge Mac, Red Birds

Sunday was a rarity for Mark McGwire: no homers or walks.

McGwire remained stuck on 47 homers, going 2-for-5 with two singles and three strikeouts in the St. Louis Cardinals' 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. But at least he got some pitches to swing at.

Unlike his fellow staff members, who walked McGwire six times in the first two games of the series, Francisco Cordova went after him.

"Cordova is one of the quality guys in the league," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "I'm sure he takes pride in the confrontations. That wasn't true the whole weekend, but it was true today. He made great pitches to everybody, including Mark."

McGwire, 26-for-111 (.234) since the All-Star break with 10 homers and 19 RBIs, fell into a tie for the home run lead when the Cubs' Sammy Sosa hit his 47th.

McGwire, who walked three times is Saturday night's 8-7, 12-inning win and eight times in his previous three games has 130, 40 short of Babe Ruth's season record.

If the high walk count bothers him, he's not letting on.

"I don't look at it that way; other people look at it that way," McGwire said. "I just take every game as it comes and take what's given to me."

Cordova (11-10) gave up a two-out single to McGwire with none on the first, struck him out with two on in the third, fanned him to start the fifth and gave up a two-out single in the seventh McGwire's 5,000th career at-bat.

With two on and two outs in the ninth, Jon Lieber relieved and struck out McGwire on three pitches for his second career save. McGwire is homerless in 14 at-bats since Tuesday.

"I told myself to be aggressive," McGwire said. "I was aggressive."

So was Lieber, who lasted only three innings in his start on Friday night. He got the call because the Pirates' bullpen was short after a 12-inning loss Saturday night.

"I think anybody would be pumped up in that situation," said Lieber, whose only other save was against St. Louis on April 16, 1996. "I knew I was going to come at him because (Ray) Lankford was up next."

Cordova, who entered the game batting .089 (5-for-56) this season, also doubled and scored in a three-run third against Matt Morris (3-3).

"Pitchers, we can't hit," Morris said. "When you do get a hit, it's either a really bad pitch or a lucky swing, or a combination of the two. I guess I kind of threw one down the middle."

Morris also hit Jason Kendall with the bases loaded, Kevin Young's double-play grounder led to another run and Jose Guillen, in an 0-for-18 slump, had a run-scoring single.

St. Louis got its only run in the third on singles by Delino DeShields, Brian Jordan and John Mabry.

Tony Womack added a RBI double off the first-base bag in he ninth off Juan Acevedo, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, for the Pirates' fourth run.

Jordan saved a run in the eighth when he threw out Tony Womack at the plate after Jason Kendall's single to right. Womack ran through a stop sign at third base.

Cordova, who shut out Cincinnati with a six-hitter Tuesday, allowed one run and seven hits in 8 2-3 innings. Morris allowed three runs and eight hits in eight innings.

Notes:

  • Ray Lankford leads the Cardinals with 11 homers and 42 RBIs since the All-Star break.
  • Kendall is 13-for-26 in his last seven games with four homers, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored.
  • Young had three hits and is on a 9-for-17 streak.
  • Freddy Garcia is 10-for-18 with four homers and seven RBIs in six games since his recall from the minors. Garcia, who had two homers Saturday, walked three times and popped out.
  • The Pirates avoided a three-game sweep and are 12-4 in their last 16 games against the Cardinals.
  • Seven of the nine games in the homestand were sellouts, including a crowd of 46,904 on Sunday.
  • Cardinals catcher Tom Lampkin left in the ninth with a muscle cramp in his leg, but was OK.

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