PITTSBURGH — Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons homered to begin a six-run first inning, and the Braves beat the sliding Pirates 7-3 on Monday night for their fourth consecutive victory.
The early outburst was enough for Ervin Santana, who allowed three solo homers 51/3 innings and improved to 8-1 over his past 10 starts.
Pittsburgh has lost six in a row. Starling Marte went deep twice, and Neil Walker added a homer that became the first to reach the Allegheny River beyond rightfield at PNC Park this season.
Relievers Luis Avilan, David Hale and James Russell combined for 32/3 hitless innings for Atlanta, which broke a tie with Pittsburgh for third place in the National League wild-card standings.
Heyward and Simmons started the game with the Braves' fifth set of back-to-back home runs this season, and it got worse from there for Vance Worley. Chris Johnson and Gerald Laird had RBI singles as Atlanta bolted to a 6-0 lead.
Worley managed to pitch six innings.
The Pirates' Pedro Alvarez started at first base in his first career appearance at any spot other than third.
Because the Braves did not arrive in Pittsburgh until early Monday morning, manager Fredi Gonzalez elected to rest regulars B.J. Upton and Evan Gattis.
Heyward had three hits and a sacrifice fly.