PITTSBURGH — Adam Kennedy had played in 1,103 major league games heading into Thursday. He had never played in the outfield, though.
Sure enough, with the potential winning run on second and two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, Jose Castillo singled to Kennedy in right field. Ryan Doumit had no trouble beating a weak and off-line throw, giving the Pittsburgh Pirates a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
“It’s part of the game and it was called for today,” Kennedy said. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
Kennedy, normally a second baseman, took over in right field in the 10th after Chris Duncan pinch hit for center fielder Ryan Ludwick and left fielder Scott Spiezio was ejected by plate umpire Bob Davidson for arguing a called third strike.
Duncan went to left in the bottom half, Juan Encarnacion moved from right to center and Kennedy went to right. Kennedy’s only previous outfield experience was on May 30, 2002, at Minnesota, when he was credited with one out as a center fielder when the Angels used a five-man infield against Cristian Guzman for the final out.
Kennedy had a feeling something unusual might happen, so he approached manager Tony La Russa during the game.
“You kind of see everything unfolding in the sixth, seventh inning so I told Tony if he needed me to go out there, I can do it for him,” Kennedy said.
Ronny Paulino homered for the second straight day for the Pirates, who won their second in a row following a streak in which they lost 14 of 16 after the All-Star break.
An error by shortstop David Eckstein helped Pittsburgh put runners on first and second with no outs in the 11th against Brad Thompson (6-5). Paulino then bunted into a double play, leaving Doumit at second.
Castillo, the last position player left on the Pirates’ bench, batted for Salomon Torres (1-3) and singled. A free swinger who entered with a .159 career average with 0-2 counts, Castillo got only his second RBI since June 28.
“That was a two-strike breaking ball,” Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said. “They were trying to expand the strike zone on him, and they didn’t get it out there far enough.”
Albert Pujols hit his 24th home run for the Cardinals, who have lost two in a row after having a four-game winning streak snapped.
St. Louis scored three times in the fourth off Shane Youman, capped by Miles’ two-run double.
Pittsburgh tied the game in the fifth on RBI doubles by Jack Wilson and Nate McLouth, and a sacrifice fly from Jose Bautista off Anthony Reyes.
Reyes had allowed only two baserunners before that. The Cardinals lost 11 of his 12 starts before he was demoted to Triple-A, but last year’s World Series Game 1 winner has pitched better in his two starts since he was brought up last week.
He benefited from his time in the minors.
“I just try to think about what I was doing down there and try and apply it up here,” he said. “It’s paying off so far.”
Paulino homered off Russ Springer in the sixth. Pujols tied it in the seventh with his 20th home run in PNC Park, the most of any opponent.
Making his sixth start of the season and ninth of his career, Youman allowed three runs, five hits and three walks in five innings. With this week’s acquisition of Matt Morris, Youman might have been auditioning to keep his rotation spot.
“For the most part, I felt fine until I got to that fourth inning, and with two outs I was kind of trying to nitpick, which is not my game, and it got me in trouble,” Youman said.
St. Louis left 11 men on base and had the potential go-ahead run in scoring position in the eighth and 10th innings.
“We just lost a game we should’ve won,” La Russa said.