Last-place Pittsburgh lost its eighth straight despite a six-run fifth that briefly gave it the lead after trailing 5-0
- only to watch Albert Pujols give St. Louis the lead again the following half-inning with a three-run homer, his major league-leading 43rd.
Ludwick went 5 for 5 with five RBIs, Matt Holliday also homered and Mark DeRosa had three hits for St. Louis, which has won six of seven and 17 of 21 to extend its lead in the National League Central to 11 1/2 games over the Chicago Cubs.
Ludwick and Holliday hit back-to-back solo home runs off of Kevin Hart in the third extend the Cardinals' lead to 4-0, and Ludwick also hit a three-run shot in the eighth for his eighth career multihomer game, third this season.
NL Cy Young candidate Wainwright (17-7) cruised through the first four innings, allowing only four baserunners and holding a 5-0 lead until, with one out in the fifth, seven of eight Pirates batters reached to give them a 6-5 lead.
The six earned runs Wainwright allowed in that inning were as many as he allowed in both of the entire months of July and August
- when he made six starts each month, going 4-1 each time.
Wainwright was in line to earn a loss for only the second time in nine starts when left the game after five innings having been charged with six runs on nine hits and two walks, striking out five.
But Pujols' homer - a line drive that cleared the left-field wall quickly
- was only the beginning of a nine-run Cardinals' outburst over the course of three innings to put away the game.
Hart (4-5) was charged with seven runs - five earned - on nine hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 5 2-3 innings. He fell to 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA in six starts with Pittsburgh since being acquired in a trade from the Chicago Cubs on July 30.