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Hurdle embraces challenge of chasing Cards

Pirates manager impressed with how St. Louis has performed this season

MILWAUKEE -- The Pirates have gone 17-8 since Aug. 6, when they were six games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central. They have gone 34-19 since July 2, when they were six games behind the Cardinals. They have gone 52-28 since June 1, when they were six games behind the Cardinals.

After a 9-4 loss to the Brewers on Wednesday, plus the Cardinals' loss to the Nationals, the Pirates are six games behind St. Louis. Any way you slice it, chasing the Cards has gone about as well as a dog chasing its own tail.

On some level, St. Louis' relentlessness reduces Clint Hurdle to a bemused giggle.

"It was pointed out to me that they could go 14-16 the rest of the way and win 100 games," the Pirates' manager said. "That's pretty cool."

Did the man orchestrating the chase say "cool?"

"The way I look at it, we've got a great challenge in front of us, a great opportunity," said Hurdle, whose team gets six more first-person opportunities against the Cardinals, starting with this weekend's series at Busch Stadium.

Aside from the frustration he must be feeling from the Pirates' play not translating into headway, Hurdle can step back and appreciate what the Cardinals have been able to accomplish, even without a third of their starting lineup (no Matt Holliday, no Matt Adams, no Jon Jay since July 29).

"They are having a very tremendous season," Hurdle said. "They've had their share of injuries and posted the next man up. Different guys are contributing; they're having the season everybody always talks about, where everybody contributes.

"When you get a bunch of guys committed to one common goal, and nobody cares who gets the credit, wonderful things can happen. That's what we believe in. I know that's what they believe in. They're getting the job done on the field more consistently than anybody else. We respect them professionally. They've done it the right way."

Touching all the bases

• First: As anticipated, the contract of infielder Pedro Florimon was selected from the Bristol Pirates on Wednesday and he rejoined the club as the seventh September callup.

To create space on the 40-man roster for Florimon, who had been designated for assignment on Aug. 19, right-hander Deolis Guerra (left knee inflammation) was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.

• Second: Vance Worley probably will not rejoin the Bucs until Triple-A Indianapolis' season ends on Labor Day. The Pirates want to keep him in the Indians' rotation so he remains stretched out.

• Third: The Pirates should have an easier time winning in Milwaukee now that Aramis Ramirez is on their side: With the Brewers, Ramirez hit .337 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 26 games against the Bucs at Miller Park.

• Home: A.J. Burnett, between simulated games (next one comes up Friday in St. Louis), most encouraged Hurdle by including 23 breaking balls -- which place the greatest burden on the elbow -- in his Sunday session.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast.
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