Bucs hit four home runs in rout of Cards

Bucs hit four home runs in rout of Cards

Bucs hit four home runs in rout of Cards
ST. LOUIS -- The long ball hurt the Pirates early on Friday night, but it in the end turned out to be their friend.

Pittsburgh belted four home runs -- including three in the sixth inning to break open a tie game -- and scored 12 unanswered runs against St. Louis in a 14-5 victory before 45,382 fans at Busch Stadium.

The Pirates also collected a season-high 19 hits in the win, which bolstered the Pirates' lead for second place in the National League Central over the Cardinals to 1 1/2 games.

"We've been good as of late. This is what we've been waiting for all season," said left fielder Alex Presley. "We've come together as a unit, and from top to bottom, you can see guys contributing. We're really swinging it well."

With the game knotted at 5 in the sixth, Clint Barmes and Presley, who came off the bench, hit back-to-back homers off St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright to start the inning. It was the fourth time this season the Pirates have hit back-to-back shots -- the second time in as many games -- and Presley's first pinch-hit homer. Garrett Jones later hit a line drive down the right-field line just over the wall with two outs off Cardinals reliever Eduardo Sanchez.

It was the first time the Pirates hit three home runs in one inning since July 22, 2009, against Milwaukee. Pittsburgh's now scored 139 runs in June, after scoring a total of 147 runs in March, April and May combined.

"Even when we went down today, they score four runs in one inning, we knew it was just a matter of time before we got that big hit and got some runners on," said center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who finished 4-for-5 and homered in the ninth for his 15th. "We're able to do that ... everybody's contributing. It's not just one or two guys."

After Pittsburgh plated two runs in the first by way of a two-out, two-RBI single by Neil Walker, the Cardinals battled back. Allen Craig's three-run homer off Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia put St. Louis ahead, 5-2, in the third.

Pittsburgh loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth with singles by McCutchen and Jones and a Walker walk. With an opportunity to get his team back into the game, Pedro Alvarez delivered with a three-run double down the right-field line to tie the game at 5. Alvarez finished 1-for-5 with four RBIs, continuing his blistering pace at the plate. He's batting .370 in his last 13 games.

"For me, that swing ... you're playing in a great venue here, and that swing almost took the crowd out of it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Alvarez's double. "You have to find ways when you play here, because these fans are awesome and they're all night long, and they cheer on a very good team. So at least we could slow things down at that point."

Craig nearly went deep off Correia again in the fifth, sending a ball to the warning track in right-center with two outs. McCutchen used his quick speed to track down the ball and end the threat with Matt Holliday stranded at third.

"He plays all parts of the game well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of McCutchen. "Any momentum you get, any extra runs are big. That was taken."

Correia has allowed 14 home runs this season, which ranks in the top 10 in the NL. He's given up home runs in nine of his 11 starts in May and June. Correia, who gave up five runs over five innings to pick up the win, entered Friday's game having allowed three earned runs or fewer in six of his previous seven starts.

Correia did however shut down St. Louis in the fourth and fifth after allowing four runs in the third.

"He competes," Hurdle said of Correia. "Sometimes it's kind of funny how games work out and pitchers get wins. But there's no denying he went out there, that big inning for him was the [fourth] inning to put a zero out on the board, and he was able to do that."

Reliever Brad Lincoln threw three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. Lincoln's thrown four scoreless innings in two straight relief appearances after going 1-2 in four starts this month.

"When you continue to string some good ones together, definitely your confidence level is up," Lincoln said. "I feel like I can go out there and attack guys with my fastball and put them away when I want to. For me, it's just go out there and pitch my game."

The Pirates have now won 10 of their last 13 games in the division, and will have two more opportunities this weekend to distance themselves from St. Louis. With the ball rolling offensively, there's a contagious feeling inside Pittsburgh's clubhouse that is rife with confidence.

"Tonight especially, everybody was feeding off of each other," Presley said. "It's a lot more loose. You don't feel as much pressure since we've been hitting the ball here recently. Earlier in the season, you start slow and everybody was talking about it. We knew we could be a good offensive team, and it's starting to come together."

Mike Still is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.