On a night the Pirates added another bat, they did most of their damage while he was somewhere on the Parkway West.
The Pirates chased St. Louis starter Lance Lynn from the game after four innings and regained sole possession of first place in the National League Central Division with a 7-1 victory Saturday night at PNC Park.
By the time Justin Morneau arrived in the Pirates' dugout in the sixth inning, his new team already had a six-run lead over the Cardinals. The Pirates traded for Morneau earlier in the afternoon, and the former Minnesota Twins star caught a flight from Dallas to Pittsburgh early Saturday evening.
"I just turned around, and there he was," manager Clint Hurdle said.
Pirates vs. Cardinals, 1:35 p.m., PNC Park.
- TV, Radio:
Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).
LHP Kris Johnson (0-1, 3.00) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (6-3, 2.91).
- Johnson vs. his nerves.
He allowed two earned runs in six innings of relief in his only major league appearance. Making a start with first place on the line in September is a different story.
- Hidden stat:
Including the game today, the Pirates and Cardinals will play four more times in the regular season.
Though Morneau hustled to catch a flight and then hurried to the ballpark from the Pittsburgh airport, he didn't see any action.
Instead, it was fellow Canadian Russell Martin who led the way with a three-run homer in the third that helped the Pirates take a commanding lead for starter A.J. Burnett.
"Especially when we had our ace on the mound, I felt like that was pretty much all we needed," Martin said.
He went 2 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs scored in front of an announced crowd of 39,514, the largest this season and second-largest in the 13-year history of PNC Park.
The Pirates (79-56) have a one-game division lead over the Cardinals (78-57) and get a chance for a sweep of St. Louis today. With their win Saturday, they secured a season-series win against the Cardinals, claiming a 10-5 record with four games left between the teams.
In those 15 contests, the Pirates have out-homered the Cardinals, 18-3. And one more sign how well things are going for the Pirates against St. Louis this year: MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen went hitless Saturday night, the only Pirates starter to do so.
"Andrew knows his importance in the lineup," Hurdle said. "But he shouldn't have to feel like he's got to carry it because he doesn't have to."
Lynn (13-9) allowed seven earned runs -- tying his career high -- and 10 hits in four innings. It was his first loss against the Pirates in five starts this season.
Burnett (7-9) allowed one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one. He is undefeated in five starts against St. Louis this season and Saturday night earned his third win against the Cardinals this year.
Once his offense gave him a sizeable lead, Burnett shut down the Cardinals. He retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.
"It feels good to hold a lead," Burnett said. "Shutdown innings are huge. That's what we aim for. That's what keeps your team in a game as a starter."
Martin's three-run homer highlighted a five-run third that helped the Pirates surge to a commanding lead.
One run already had scored in the decisive third when Martin sent a 2-1 fastball into the right-center seats for his 13th homer this season. It was the second time this season Martin has homered in consecutive games; he hit a solo homer Friday night in the Pirates' 5-0 victory.
The Pirates have hit a lot of solo homers this season, but they have hit two three-run blasts this past week that have propelled them to wins.
"It stretches the game out for you and gives you a net, sometimes, to work with," Hurdle said.
"They're nice," Martin said, with a smile. "Almost as nice as grand slams."
Pedro Alvarez hit a leadoff double in the third and scored when Marlon Byrd snuck a grounder past Lynn and into center. He and Garrett Jones scored on Martin's homer.
Neil Walker tripled -- with the help of a poor route by right fielder Carlos Beltran -- with two outs in the inning, scoring Jose Tabata from first as the Pirates climbed ahead 7-1.
Burnett -- yes, Burnett -- started the scoring for the Pirates with a two-out single in the second, scoring Martin from second.
Tabata followed with another RBI single to right, scoring Clint Barmes to lift the Pirates into a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinals responded in the third, scoring their first run since Tuesday. Beltran laced a two-out single to right, scoring Kelton Wong from second to make it 2-1.
The Cardinals were shut out Wednesday by the Cincinnati Reds and Friday night against the Pirates.
Michael Sanserino: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published September 1, 2013 2:00 AM