Neil Walker's three-run homer in the seventh inning led the Pirates to a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals Friday night.
Jose Tabata and Walker led off with back-to-back singles in the bottom of the first, and both runners came home later in the inning on a bases-loaded, ground-rule double by Ike Davis -- Davis' hit might well have cleared the bases if it hadn't bounced over the short wall in left.
Francisco Liriano was fine until the fourth, when he allowed two ground-ball singles and then a three-run homer on a slider to Allen Craig. Liriano got through five innings before being replaced by Brent Morel (and by the way, your guess about Morel's promotion is as good as mine). Along the way, he struck out five and walked four.
Tabata doubled in the fifth, and Walker singled him home to tie the game. Jeanmar Gomez allowed a solo homer to Jhonny Peralta in the seventh to give the Cardinals another lead, however.
In the bottom of the inning, Jordy Mercer and Gaby Sanchez singled off Carlos Martinez, and Walker crushed a curveball to deep right. The ball landed deep in the seats, and the Pirates had a 6-4 lead. Tony Watson and Mark Melancon took over from there; Melancon allowed a leadoff double to Daniel Descalso, but otherwise, it was smooth sailing for the Pirates, who improved to 15-20 with the win.
It was a big day for Walker, in particular, who knocked in four runs and scored two. The home run was Walker's seventh, and his career high is 16 -- it isn't even mid-May yet, and he's almost halfway there.