ST. LOUIS -- In triple-digit heat, the Pittsburgh Pirates played it cool.
Clint Barmes, pinch-hitter Alex Presley and Garrett Jones each homered in a four-run sixth inning that snapped a tie, and the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 14-5 in a game that began with the temperature at 101 degreees Friday night.
"It's warm for both teams," Jones said. "You've just got to suck it up, dunk your head in some cold water and just go for it. You get that good sweat going, you feel good out there, and after the first few innings you kind of forget about how hot it is."
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Andrew McCutchen had four of the Pirates' season-high 19 hits, the last a three-run homer off Marc Rzepczynski in the ninth. McCutchen also robbed Allen Craig of a third extra-base hit with a running catch near the center field wall in the fifth.
"They're following McCutchen," losing pitcher Adam Wainwright said. "He's probably going to carry them, he's a great player."
The Pirates' previous high hit total for the season was 14, just two days earlier at Philadelphia in an 11-7 victory.
"We have the capability to do it," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The guys connected the dots. We were able to stretch the starter's pitch count out a little bit and then we were able to pile on a little bit."
The Pirates have 38 homers this month, one off the franchise record set in 1975, and the run total was the franchise's best since they also scored 14 on Aug. 31, 2010, at the Chicago Cubs. The three-homer inning was their first since July 22, 2009, against the Brewers and Presley's pinch shot was the first of his career and the Pirates' first pinch-hit homer since last August.
"I do like the way our offense has thrown some punches back this month," Hurdle said.
Carlos Beltran got his 2,000th career hit on an RBI single in the third against Kevin Correia (4-6), also his NL-leading 60th RBI of the season and giving him an RBI in seven consecutive games. Craig hit a three-run homer and doubled. He is a career .394 hitter (26 for 66) against the Pirates with four homers and 14 RBIs.
"I don't know how to approach or embrace milestones like that," Beltran said. "I don't show a lot of emotions, but inside my heart, God knows I'm happy and pleased with everything I've done in this game."
Pittsburgh won its third straight after entering the night one game back of Cincinnati for the NL Central lead and a half-game ahead of the Cardinals. The Pirates, who have homered in a season-best seven straight games, can match their longest winning streak of the year on Saturday with Jeff Karstens opposing Cardinals 10-game winner Lance Lynn.
The Pirates had a pair of big two-out hits earlier, Walker's two-run single in the first and a bases-clearing double by Pedro Alvarez that tied it at 5 in the fifth that Hurdle thought "took the crowd out of it."
They homered in consecutive at-bats for the second straight game when Barmes and Presley connected to start the sixth and chase Wainwright (6-8).
"Kind of frustrating, very disappointing," Wainwright said. "I just didn't make pitches when I needed to, kind of a mixture of bad luck with some poor pitches."
Correia was lifted after 90 pitches and five innings, with the temperature down only to 96 degrees. He has surrendered 13 homers in his last 11 starts after giving up just one in his first four outings.
Reliever Brad Lincoln allowed one hit in three scoreless innings and struck out four in a row in the seventh and eighth.
Craig provided much of the Cardinals' early offense. He doubled and scored on David Freese's groundout in the second and his 10th homer came the next at-bat after Beltran's 2,000th hit, had given them a 5-2 cushion.
Wainwright struck out seven, fanning leadoff man Drew Sutton twice. He didn't allow a homer his previous four outings and pitched seven innings each of his previous three starts.
Two weeks ago, the 35-year-old Beltran became the first switch hitter in major league history to accumulate 300 homers and 300 stolen bases.
- Cardinals 3B coach Jose Oquendo missed the game due to illness. Chris Maloney moved from 1B to 3B and John Mabry filled in at first base.
- The gametime start was the hottest in St. Louis since it was also 101 degrees on Aug. 2, 2006, against the Phillies, according to information provided by the Cardinals from the Elias Sports Bureau.
- The Pirates have hit back-to-back homers four times, including Casey McGehee and Alvarez off the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick in the second inning Thursday. Cardinals pitchers have allowed consecutive homers the last two games, with the Marlins' John Buck and pinch hitter Logan Morrison connecting off Fernando Salas in the seventh inning Wednesday.
- McGehee had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth and is 6 for 11 with three RBI in that role.
- Pirates C Rod Barajas returned to the lineup after missing time with a left knee bone bruise on Monday and was 0 for 4.
- Matt Holliday had two singles and is batting .489 (23 for 47) with two homers, 12 RBI and eight doubles.
- McCutchen is a career .429 hitter (9 for 21) against Wainwright.