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Pirates defeat Cardinals, will enter September in first place for first time since 1992

Russell Martin, Garrett Jones, Marlon Byrd

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Russell Martin (55) is greeted by teammates Garrett Jones, center, and Marlon Byrd (2) who were on base for his three-run home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (31) during the third inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

AP

Tied with the Cardinals at 78 wins and 56 losses, the Pirates defeated their NL Central rival tonight by a score of 7-1 to move into sole possession of first place. They will enter September in first place for the first time since 1992, the last year the Pirates made the post-season. (It was also Barry Bonds’ final season with the franchise.)

A.J. Burnett held the Cardinal offense at bay, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings. The offense was relentless early as Burnett and Jose Tabata each knocked RBI singles off of Cardinals starter Lance Lynn in the second. Then, in the third, Marlon Byrd hit an RBI single, Russell Martin crushed a three-run home run to center, and Neil Walker laced an RBI triple for a five-spot to go up 7-1. Vin Mazzarro pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth as the Pirates wrapped up an easy victory.

First baseman Justin Morneau, recently acquired from the Twins for outfielder Alex Presley, joined the team during the game but was not used.

Welcome to the Bucs Justin Morneau! #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/v85PKtxRgQ

— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) September 1, 2013


In other debut news, reliever John Axford made his Cardinals debut, retiring the Pirates in order in the bottom of the seventh. The Cardinals acquired Axford from the Brewers yesterday for a player to be named later.

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