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(The Sports Xchange) - Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia lifted St. Louis to a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates after seven shutout innings to restore the Cardinals' National League Central lead to 6-1/2 games.
Garcia (8-4) gave up four hits, three to right fielder Sean Rodriguez, and walked one while striking out a season-high nine.
"I felt pretty good the whole game," Garcia said after lowering his ERA to 1.89. "I don't look for strikeouts, I look for quick outs. I threw more pitches than I usually do."
Garcia threw 108 pitches, three shy of his career high, before leaving for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.
Rodriguez was the only Pirate who solved Garcia, singling twice and doubling. The rest of his teammates managed just one hit, a broken-bat single in the first by Andrew McCutchen.
"He cuts the plate in half," Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said of Garcia.
"That's why you see some of the swings and misses you see against him, even from (former) MVPs like Andrew McCutchen. When he's healthy, Jaime is one of the top pitchers in the league."
Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton (8-7) pitched six innings, allowing four hits and two runs (one earned). He walked three and struck out three.
Morton put himself in trouble in the bottom of the second inning, though, filling the bases on two walks and a hit batter.
Left fielder Stephen Piscotty then legged out a two-out infield hit to score Kolten Wong from third before Josh Harrison's throw skipped past first baseman Michael Morse for an error that allowed Jon Jay to score a second run.
Carpenter added insurance for St. Louis (87-48) with his 21st homer of the season, a two-run blast off reliever Arquimedes Caminero into the Pittsburgh bullpen in left center, in the seventh.
"He had real good movement in the strike zone and it looked like he got sharper as the game went on," St Louis manager Mike Matheny said of Garcia. "He did a real good job mixing things up in sequences with (catcher) Yadier (Molina).
"It was another one of his good outings."
Compiled by Greg Stutchbury