Things have changed in a major way in the seven days since the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates met in one of the season's most memorable games.
The Cardinals have been surging and the Pirates have been stumbling since they played a 19-inning thriller, and the final 2012 series between these NL Central rivals and wild-card contenders begins Monday night at PNC Park.
When Pittsburgh (68-59) survived for a 6-3, 19-inning win at St. Louis (70-57) on Aug. 19, it gave the Pirates a two-game lead over the Cardinals for the NL's second wild card.
St. Louis has gone 5-1 since while Pittsburgh has dropped five of six to make the margin two games the other way now. There are major question marks about the Pirates' focus entering their last chance to gain ground on the Cardinals head-to-head.
"I would not say we're not focused,'' said Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle after his team's 7-0 home loss to Milwaukee on Sunday. "I wouldn't say that's an accurate statement. We're just not...