PITTSBURGH — Albert Pujols went 4-for-5 and homered for the second straight game as the Cardinals won 6-4 Friday and pulled into a virtual tie with the Pirates in the crowded NL Central standings.
David Freese broke out of a slump with two hits, including a two-run homer.
Chris Carpenter gave up four runs in eight innings to win his fourth straight decision. Fernando Salas pitched the ninth for his 18th save.
Paul Maholm had won four straight at PNC Park, but a sloppy first inning sent him to his first home loss in two months.
Pujols has had little trouble having his way with Maholm. His two-run shot in the first inning was his 27th at PNC, the most home runs he has hit in a road venue. He later added a double off the veteran left-hander to improve to .583 lifetime (21-for-36) against him during his career.
Freese entered 2-for-22 over the first six games of the swing, but he hit a two-run shot in the first to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead.