ST. LOUIS -- What started as a deficit turned into a drubbing Friday night at Busch Stadium courtesy of big hits in big situations -- the kind of hits the Pirates were lacking the first two months of the season.
But really, all types of hits came en masse in a 14-5 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Pirates smacked a season-high 19 hits and set a season high for runs in a game. They clubbed four home runs in a game for the third time this season after doing it three times in the three previous seasons combined.
"When you can get some long balls, we haven't been getting a ton of them this year, but when we do, I think we're making them count," said Garrett Jones, who hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning that extended the Pirates' lead.
The Pirates (41-35) are halfway to a winning record with more than half of the season to go.
With 50 home runs on the road this season, the Pirates overtook the Cardinals (49) for most in the National League.
It was the most runs the Pirates scored in a game since scoring 14 Aug. 31, 2010 against the Cubs, and it was the most hits in a game since smacking 19 July 18, 2010 against the Astros.
They erased a three-run deficit in the fifth and grabbed a four-run lead in the sixth behind some heavy hitting.
Clint Barmes led off the sixth with a first-pitch home run off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright as the Pirates took a 6-5 lead. Alex Presley followed with his sixth home run of the season, cracking a 2-2 pitch over the right-center field wall.
It was the second consecutive night the Pirates went back-to-back as Casey McGehee and Pedro Alvarez hit back-to-back home runs in the first of the Pirates' 5-4 victory Thursday against the Phillies.
The power hitting continued in the sixth for the Pirates when Jones hit a low-flying two-out, two-run homer off reliever Eduardo Sanchez to make it 9-5.
It was the first time since July 22, 2009 that the Pirates homered three times in an inning. Then, against the Milwaukee Brewers, Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit each homered in the third en route to an 8-7 victory.
Wainwright left the game after Presley's home run, having surrendered seven earned runs on 11 hits in five-plus innings. He struck out seven, walking one.
His counterpart Kevin Correia was shaky, allowing five earned runs on six hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked two on 90 pitches.
It was the ninth consecutive start Correia failed to pitch past the sixth, and the fourth this season he failed to make it past the fifth.
A two-out rally in the fifth allowed the Pirates to erase a three-run deficit.
McCutchen and Jones each hit two-out singles off Wainwright, who then issued a walk to Neil Walker to load the bases and bring Alvarez to the plate. A .556 career hitter with the bases loaded entering the at-bat, Alvarez cranked the first pitch he saw down the right-field line for a bases-clearing double that tied the score, 5-5.
"That swing kind of took the crowd out of it," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Correia's biggest mistake of the game gave the Cardinals (40-37) the lead. With a 2-1 count on Allen Craig, catcher Rod Barajas set up on the outside of the plate for Correia's cutter. But Correia missed the mark by about a foot inside, leaving the 88-mph pitch over the plate.
Craig hit it 408 feet, over the left-field wall that scored three and gave the Cardinals a 5-2 lead.
"Craig was a rock in his shoe all night," Hurdle said.
Though the Pirates' early season offensive struggles made it difficult to claw back from such deficits, McCutchen said the team has newfound confidence at the plate.
"Even when we went down, we knew it was just a matter of time before we got that big hit, got some runners on," McCutchen said.
Carlos Beltran tied the score earlier in the inning with his 2,000th career hit, an RBI single to left field that scored Rafael Furcal to make it 2-2.
McCutchen hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth, his 15th of the season.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @msanserino. First Published June 30, 2012 4:30 AM