PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Francisco Liriano allowed one run over seven dominant innings, Pedro Alvarez hit his NL-leading 27th home run and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-2 Monday night.
Liriano (11-4) struck out eight and walked just two to win his fifth straight start. The Pirates kicked off the key series at PNC Park by sending the Cardinals to their fourth straight loss to pull within a half-game of the lead in the NL Central.
Clint Barmes doubled twice and drove in two runs for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen added two hits and an RBI.
Jake Westbrook (7-5) continued to struggle against the Pirates. He fell to 1-8 against Pittsburgh in his career after surrendering four first-inning runs. Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson hit RBI singles for St. Louis, which has scored just four runs during its longest losing streak of the season.