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Pirates 5, Cardinals 1

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ST. LOUIS -- Francisco Liriano made sure Pittsburgh didn't suffer a hangover from its brutal defeat in the opener of its National League Central showdown with St. Louis.

The veteran lefthander simply carved up the Cardinal lineup, working a four-hitter Wednesday night as the Pirates snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-1 win at Busch Stadium.

Liriano (13-5) walked one and fanned six, needing just 94 pitches to author his second complete game this year. He came within an out of his first shutout since May 3, 2011, when he no-hit the Chicago White Sox while pitching for Minnesota.

No one even got to scoring position for St. Louis (68-51) until Matt Carpenter's one-out double in the ninth. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Carlos Beltran's bouncer to third.

But it wasn't enough to keep the Cardinals from falling three games behind Pittsburgh (71-48) in the division and dropping to 3-6 on their 10-game homestand. It was their 14th loss in 20 games.

Shelby Miller (11-8) absorbed the defeat, going six innings and allowing eight hits, as well as all five runs. It was his first start since Aug. 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, which knocked him out on the game's second pitch as Carl Crawford hit him on the pitching elbow with a line drive.

As it did in Tuesday night's bitter 4-3, 14-inning loss, Pittsburgh used the long ball to grab an early lead. Pedro Alvarez led off the second with a 440-foot blast to center, his 29th of the year, and Garrett Jones followed one out later by lining his 11th homer to right field.

Unlike Tuesday night, the Pirates kept adding on. They made it 5-0 in the fourth when backup catcher Tony Sanchez singled Neil Walker home, followed two batters later by Starling Marte's two-run double to left-center.

The last two runs were unearned, thanks to an error by third baseman David Freese on Jones' potential double play bouncer.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano cruised through the St. Louis lineup, allowing just three hits and facing one batter over the minimum through five innings. Leadoff singles in the second and fourth were erased on double plays.

NOTES: St. Louis C Yadier Molina (knee) and OF Shane Robinson (shoulder) expect to be activated for Thursday's series finale with Pittsburgh. Both went on the 15-day disabled list July 31 with injuries suffered during a series in Pittsburgh ... The Pirates gave C Russell Martin the night off with a day game slated for Thursday. Martin is expected to catch A.J. Burnett ... Cardinals LF Matt Holliday was back in the lineup Wednesday night after leaving Tuesday night's game in the bottom of the 10th inning with a mild right ankle sprain, suffered while pivoting to go back to first as Martin faked a throw following a pitch to Rob Johnson. X-rays came back negative on Holliday's ankle.
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