ST. LOUIS -- Lance Lynn gave St. Louis' shutdown starting rotation another excellent game. Jonathan Sanchez couldn't even give Pittsburgh an out.
Lynn allowed two hits and fanned nine in seven innings Friday night and Carlos Beltran homered twice as the Cardinals notched a 9-1 win in a game that saw the ejection of three Pirates.
Lynn (4-0) won his fourth straight start despite occasional bouts of wildness, walking three and hitting two. The right-hander lowered his ERA to 3.10 and tied San Francisco's Barry Zito for the longest active winning streak by National League pitchers with nine, dating to last year.
How good has St. Louis' rotation been? Lynn's ERA is the highest among the starters, who are a combined 14-4 with an ERA of 2.24. It's the main reason the Cardinals (14-8) own a 1 1/2-game lead over Pittsburgh (13-10) in the NL Central.
Things got crazy in the bottom of the first. Matt Carpenter lined a leadoff homer over the center-field wall, followed by Beltran's homer to left. It was the first time St. Louis cracked back-to-back homers to start a game since April 16, 2004, when Tony Womack and Reggie Sanders did it at home against Colorado.
After Matt Holliday singled, Sanchez (0-3) hit Allen Craig in the ear hole with his first pitch. Home-plate umpire Tim Timmons deemed the pitch intentional and ejected Sanchez, then kicked out Pirates manager Clint Hurdle after a brief argument.
Jeanmar Gomez relieved Sanchez and prevented further damage but was nicked for a run in the third as Craig grounded a single to left, scoring Holliday from second.
Meanwhile, Lynn gave up just one hit -- an infield single to leadoff man Starling Marte -- and struck out eight in the first five innings. Lynn plunked Marte in his next two at-bats, and Timmons booted hitting coach Jay Bell in the fifth after the second one for chirping from the Pittsburgh dugout.
Beltran then jacked a 428-foot homer to right with Carpenter aboard in the fifth, making it 5-0. It's the 35th multi-homer game for Beltran and the first time the switch-hitter has connected from each side of the plate since Sept. 30, 2012, against Washington.
Pedro Alvarez put the Pirates on the board in the sixth with a sacrifice fly, then had a chance to put them back in the game when struggling reliever Mitchell Boggs loaded the bases with one out in the eighth on an infield single, hit batter and walk.
But left-hander Randy Choate replaced Boggs and induced a 4-6-3 double-play grounder from Alvarez, ending the inning and Pittsburgh's chances to win.
The Cardinals tacked on four runs in their half of the eighth on RBI singles by Pete Kozma and Holliday and a two-run single by Craig.
NOTES: St. Louis placed first baseman Matt Adams on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 22, with a strained right oblique and purchased infielder Jermaine Curtis from Memphis of the Pacific Coast League. Adams was hitting .542 with three homers in 24 at-bats, and Curtis was batting .292 with a team-high 17 RBI in 14 games for Memphis ... Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen played in his 600th major-league game. ... Pirates pitching is allowing opponents to hit .215, the lowest average in the majors.