Pedro Alvarez homered, Clint Barmes drove in a pair of runs, and Francisco Liriano pitched four-hit baseball over seven innings for his 11th win, as the Pittsburgh Pirates opened a five-game home series with a 9-2 romp over first-place St. Louis on Monday night.
Alvarez capped off a four-run first inning by taking over the National League home run lead with his 27th homer, a three-run shot. Barmes doubled home two runs in a five-run seventh inning. Barmes and Andrew McCutchen both tallied two of Pittsburgh’s nine hits. McCutchen, Starling Marte and the just-promoted Alex Presley all contributed RBI singles, and Gaby Sanchez drove home a run with a sacrifice fly.
Liriano (11-4; 2.16 ERA) allowed only one run, struck out eight batters and walked two. Tony Watson and Vic Black worked an inning each from the Pirates’ bullpen.
Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook (7-5; 3.18 ERA) settled down after allowing four runs before retiring a single batter, but he left the game after five innings, having thrown 100 pitches, surrendering four runs and four hits, striking out two hitters and walking three. Westbrook has a lifetime record of just 1-8 against the Pirates, and is 0-6 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Offensively for St. Louis (62-41), Matt Holliday went 2-for-4, and Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson both hit RBI singles. The Cards have lost four games in a row for the first time this season.
With the win, the Pirates (62-42) have moved to within a half-game of the Cardinals in the National League Central Division.
The series in the Steel City resumes with a twi-night double header beginning at 4:05 PM on Tuesday. The Cardinals will start Lance Lynn (12-5; 3.98 ERA) and rookie Tyler Lyons (2-3; 5.51 ERA), while the Pirates will utilize A.J. Burnett (4-7; 2.96 ERA) in the opener, and will name a spot starter for the nightcap sometime Tuesday.