PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Ryan Ludwick's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning scored the go-ahead run and the St. Louis Cardinals withstood a shaky beginning by Chris Carpenter to beat Pittsburgh 6-4 on Friday night, stretching the Pirates' losing streak to six games.
Carpenter (11-3) fell behind 4-2 in the third -- as many runs as he allowed in his previous four starts combined -- before finishing with five shutout innings to improve to 6-0 in his last seven starts.
Matt Holliday hit a two-run home run and scored the lead run as the Cardinals won for the seventh time in 10 games. Albert Pujols had three hits and is 9 for 13 in his last three games, and Mark DeRosa hit his eighth homer in 16 games.
The Pirates have been outscored 27-4 from the seventh inning on while going 2-6 on a 10-game homestand that followed the flurry of trades a week ago in which they shed second baseman Freddy Sanchez, shortstop Jack Wilson and pitchers John Grabow, Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny. Only two position players who started on opening day were in their lineup.
With the score tied at 4, Holliday singled in the eighth off reliever Jose Ascanio (0-2), the former Cubs reliever who was called up from Triple-A earlier in the day. Holliday stole second, his first steal with St. Louis, and moved on to third as second baseman Delwyn Young misplayed the throw. Ludwick followed with his sacrifice fly and Colby Rasmus added another in the ninth.
Holliday's home run off a second-deck left field walkway followed Pujols' single in the first, and the Cardinals might have thought that 2-0 lead was enough given how Carpenter has been pitching. Carpenter not only was 5-0 with a 1.60 ERA in previous last six starts, he had an 0.73 ERA in his last five starts against Pittsburgh.
But the Pirates quickly tied it in their half of the first on two-out home runs by Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit, only the third time this season Pittsburgh has hit back-to-back homers. Carpenter hadn't given up more than one run in an inning since yielding three to the Cubs in the third on July 10.
The Pirates, who have beaten five former Cy Young Award or 20-game winners this season despite their 45-64 record, came back to take a 4-2 lead in the third on doubles by Doumit and Delwyn Young and Steve Pearce's RBI single. Paul Maholm, winless in his last four starts, couldn't hold the lead.
DeRosa's homer made it 4-3 in the fourth, and pinch-hitter Khalil Greene's two-out RBI double down the right field line tied it in the seventh. Greene cost the Cardinals a chance for a bigger inning when he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple -- and with Pujols, who was 3 for 3 at the time, due up next.
Carpenter gave up nine hits in eight innings, the fourth consecutive start in which he has given up eight or more, before Ryan Franklin finished up for his 25th save in 27 opportunities.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)