Reigning AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera, turned a close game into a no-doubter with his third home run of the season, a seventh-inning, three run blast that completed the scoring for the Tigers.
Following Cabrera's homer, Al Alburquerque and Jose Valverde slammed the door shut on the Braves, each turning in hitless inning stints. Cabrera's home run was his first since April 16, though his batting average (.375, tied for second in the AL with teammate Torii Hunter) and run production have not suffered. He has 26 RBI on the season, third in the AL behind Chris Davis (28) and Mike Napoli (27).
Cabrera also doubled in three official at-bats, scoring a tie-breaking run in the sixth inning on a sac fly by Victor Martinez.
Martin, who came to the Pirates during the off-season after two seasons with the Yankees, cranked a first-inning solo homer to get Pittsburgh on the board in the second inning and launched a two-run jack in the ninth to complete the rout. In between, he doubled, going 3-for-5 on the day, with three RBI. Martin, who averages just 13 homers per year, has hit five already this season.
While the Pirates were piling up 13 hits on four St. Louis pitchers, Pittsburgh starter Jeff Locke was humming, stifling the Cardinal bats on three hits over seven innings to get to 3-1 on the year. Reliever Justin Wilson closed folded the Cards with two innings of hitless ball.
The win put the Pirates 1/2 game up on the Cardinals with their second straight win over the redbirds after dropping the series opener in St. Louis with a 9-1 beating.
The division remains the most contentious in the majors. Following the Cardinals are Cincinnati, 1 1/2 back and Milwaukee, a mere two games behind the Pirates.