Triple Crown chase


No one has won baseball’s Triple Crown — leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBI — since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. The last NL winner was Joe Medwick in 1937. Of the 14 players who’ve done it, 12 are in the Hall of Fame.

Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols leads the NL with 39 homers (four ahead of Joey Votto) and 109 RBI (two ahead of Carlos Gonzalez). But Pujols trails Gonzalez (.339) by 32 points in the batting average race — and that’s a lot of ground to make up in a short time.

“It’s so difficult to do,” manager John Russell said of winning the Triple Crown. “The guys who chase it are either the Albert Pujols type or they’re having a phenomenal year. To get all three of them is tough, because there’s always that guy somewhere who’s hitting for a high average or who all of the sudden is having a monster home run year.”

Will we ever see another Triple Crown winner?

“I don’t know … yeah, it’s gonna happen,” Russell said. “There’s only a few records I don’t think will ever be broken, like Cy Young’s (511 career wins). It will happen. There’s so many good players now, somebody’s going to click and do it. But it’s extremely difficult.”

»»» Stats, streaks and slumps: The Pirates are gunning tonight for their first five-game winning streak since Aug. 17-22, 2009. … The Pirates’ streak of games with at least one extra-base hit is up to 33. … Andrew McCutchen has reached base in 16 straight games. … Garrett Jones has reached base in each of his past 11 starts. … Pedro Alvarez has not homered since Sept. 5.

Lineups for tonight’s game:

Cardinals (76-72) – 1. Skip Schumaker 2b, 2. Jon Jay rf, 3. Albert Pujols 1b, 4. Matt Holliday lf, 5. Colby Rasmus cf, 6. Daniel Descalso 3b, 7. Matt Pagnozzi c, 8. Brendan Ryan ss, 9. Kyle Lohse (4-7, 6.75) rhp

Pirates (52-98) – 1. Andrew McCutchen cf, 2. Jose Tabata lf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Garrett Jones 1b, 5. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 6. John Bowker rf, 7. Ronny Cedeno ss, 8. Chris Snyder c, 9. Charlie Morton (1-11, 8.61) rhp