Bucs get boost with Cardinals' delayed loss

PITTSBURGH -- In the shadow of the September wire, it may no longer matter because there might be a wide separation -- either way -- between the Pirates and St. Louis. For present purposes, however, the late-Thursday, early-Friday decision to wait out a rainstorm and have the Royals and Cardinals play to a pre-dawn conclusion greatly impacted the National League Central race.

To review: Kansas City was in the midst of a three-run rally into a 4-2 lead in the top of the ninth when the storm pelted Busch Stadium. A stoppage would have reverted the score to the last completed inning, meaning a 2-1 Cardinals victory.

Under umpiring crew chief Joe West's directive, the teams waited out a four-hour, 32-minute delay. The final out of the Royals' win was recorded at 4:14 a.m. ET.

So the Bucs neared within 1 1/2 games of the division-leading Cards, instead of remaining 2 1/2 back.

"It would've been a hard situation to deal with. Interesting," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who was brought up to speed on the developments in a phone chat with George Brett, his former teammate and the Royals' new batting coach. "I called to welcome him back to the show, and he gets into the whole situation. It was crazy."

How much will the craziness take out of the Cardinals? Coincidence or not, the Pirates were said to have come up empty following their 19-inning win in St. Louis last Aug. 19, which preceded their late-season collapse. That game was played in six hours and seven minutes. Including a one-hour pre-game delay, the Cards' overnight adventure took seven hours, 59 minutes.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.