PITTSBURGH — A.J. Burnett pitched seven four-hit innings, Russell Martin hit a three-run homer and the Pirates beat the Cardinals 7-1 on Saturday night to regain sole possession of the NL Central lead.
Neil Walker added three hits for Pittsburgh, which improved to 79-56 and moved within three victories of its first winning season since 1992.
Burnett received plenty of offensive help hours after the Pirates acquired first baseman Justin Morneau from the Twins.
Morneau arrived in the dugout in the sixth inning. By then Pittsburgh had things well in hand.
Martin keyed a five-run second with his drive off Lance Lynn, who lost his fourth straight decision and could do little to harness an offense that is starting to heat up. Pittsburgh ranks 10th in the NL in runs but is averaging 5.2 during its current six-game homestand.
Burnett got Pittsburgh started with an RBI single in the second and Jose Tabata followed with another.
One inning later, Pedro Alvarez led off with a double, Marlon Byrd singled him home and Garrett Jones walked. Martin then sent a fastball into the front row of seats in right-center for his second homer in two nights.