Slumping Garrett Jones hit his 100th career homer and drove in four runs as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat St. Louis 5-0 Friday night and moved into a tie with the Cardinals for the NL Central lead.
Jones had three hits and Russell Martin added his 12th homer of the season. Jose Tabata and Neil Walker got two hits as the Pirates moved within four victories of their first winning season in 21 years.
Francisco Liriano (15-7) allowed just two hits over eight innings, walking two and striking out six to reach the 15-win plateau for the first time.
Jones came in hitting just .119 in August but broke out against St. Louis starter Shelby Miller (12-9).
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle gave Jones some time off to figure things out earlier this week. For a night, the tinkering worked.
Jones hit a two-run double in the first inning to give Pittsburgh the lead, added a moon shot to the seats in right field off Miller in the fourth and followed it up with an RBI single in the fifth.
That was plenty for Liriano.
The left-hander is in the midst of a mid-career revival with the Pirates and he had little trouble improving to 4-0 against the Cardinals.
Liriano pitched a complete game in a 5-1 win at St. Louis two weeks ago and was even more dominant in front of a packed PNC Park that is still getting used to being in the thick of a pennant race.
The Cardinals managed only one runner in the last six innings, and no one got past second base in the entire game.
Behind Liriano and Jones, Pittsburgh righted itself following a bumpy three-game set against Milwaukee earlier in the week.
Miller is in the midst of a breakout rookie season but hasn’t figured out a way to solve the Pirates. He fell to 0-4 versus Pittsburgh.
The Pirates doubled that total in the first inning against Miller. Tabata led off with a single and Walker doubled to put runners in scoring position. Miller hit Pedro Alvarez to load the bases and Jones ended a month’s worth of frustration by slashing a ball down the right-field line.
Jones kept it going in the fourth, golfing Miller’s fastball into the stands. Martin followed with a shot over the wall in center on the next pitch to give Pittsburgh a 4-0 lead.
Jones drove in newly acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd in the fifth, making his entire RBI total this month (four) with three swings of the bat.
Note: Pittsburgh All-Star closer Jason Grilli will pitch one inning for Double-A Altoona today as he continues his rehab from a strained flexor tendon in his right forearm.