The Pittsburgh Pirates and St Louis Cardinals have been playing against each other for a very long time now. Every year since 1892 these two teams have met up against each other in regular season play and going back even further, the two franchises began together in 1882 in the American Association. That first rivalry lasted five seasons before Pittsburgh(then known as the Alleghenys) moved to the National League in 1887, while the St Louis Browns stayed in the AA until the league folded in 1891, then they joined the NL. Now in their 126th season playing against each other, the Pirates have the series lead at 1203-1144.
The two clubs first met on May 10,1882 with Pittsburgh taking the win by a 9-5 score. That first season head-to-head, the Alleghenys walked away with a 10-6 advantage but the rest of their time in the AA was a much different story. St Louis won two pennants over the next four years and each year they outplayed Pittsburgh. In the five seasons that both clubs played in the AA, the Browns took the series 27-49. The last game they played against each other in the AA was a 4-3 win on September 9,1886 for the Alleghenys behind future Hall of Fame pitcher Pud Galvin.
The next meeting between the two franchises was on April 15,1892 when the Browns defeated the Pirates(name changed previous year) in the second game of the season by a 9-3 score. Pittsburgh would end up taking the next four games from the Browns, played over the next eight days.
Pittsburgh was the better team of the two for a long time and the head-to-head records over that time period help prove that fact. From 1892 until 1914 the Cardinals did not win one season series between the two clubs. St Louis had 14 seasons over that 23 year stretch that they lost at least 90 games. It wasn’t until 1915 that St Louis could take the series by going 12-10 over the Pirates. Pittsburgh though, beat them by one half game in the overall standings that year.
The stretch from 1907 until 1910 was the most dominating era for the Pirates. Their record against St Louis those years was as follows:
During the years the Pirates made it to the World Series, plus the two seasons Pittsburgh won the NL pennant before the WS was started, the Pirates had the following record over the Cardinals:
1902: 16- 4
The interesting thing about that 1927 season was that the Cardinals won the NL pennant in both 1926 and 1928. The year in between they lost in the standings by 1.5 games to Pittsburgh, a difference made possible by the advantage the Pirates had in the head-to-head meetings that season. In 1926 the Cardinals won the series 13-9 and in 1928 the won 15-7.
During the Pirates rough patch from 1950 until 1955, when they lost at least 90 games every season, the Cardinals made up some ground in the all-time series by going 47-84. The number is actually skewed a little because the Pirates took the series in 1950, going 12-9. The 35-75 stretch from 1951-55 includes three straight 5-17 records against the Cardinals in season play.
The most recent time the Pirates took the season series was probably more recent than you think. In 2008 they went 10-7 to the Cardinals, thanks in part to a mid-September sweep at home in a three game series. The overall series since the Cardinals joined the NL sits at 1176-1095 in favor of the Pirates.