Polanco powers Bucs past Cards

Pittsburgh's Gregory Polanco looks to the sky after hitting a solo home run on Monday. (AP)

ST. LOUIS (AP) – Gregory Polanco homered twice and Jonathon Niese turned in his best start in almost a month to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.

John Jaso also drove in a run for Pittsburgh, which has won five in a row, all on the road. St. Louis had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Polanco’s two-run homer in the sixth off Carlos Martinez (7-6) put the Pirates ahead to stay 2-1. He added a solo shot in the eighth for the first two-homer game of his career.

Niese (7-6), who had given up at least four earned runs in each of his previous four starts, allowed just one run on seven hits over 5 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked one. Niese gave up eight earned runs in an 8-3 loss to St. Louis at home on June 12.

Relievers Arquimedes Caminero, Juan Nicasio and Neftali Feliz combined to allow one run over the final 3 1-3 innings. Feliz picked up his first save of the season despite giving up a run-scoring double to Matt Carpenter in the ninth. Feliz retired Matt Holliday with two runners on to end the game.

Jaso pushed the lead to 3-1 with a run-scoring hit in the seventh off Martinez, who gave up three runs on nine hits over seven innings. He struck out seven and walked one.

Carpenter gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the fifth. He also doubled in a run in the ninth.

Polanco, who leads the team with 50 RBI, has been slowed by a left hamstring strain. He played the previous six games as a designated hitter during the nine-game road trip.

Pittsburgh, which has won eight of 10, recorded its fourth successive come-from-behind win.


Pirates: C Chris Stewart was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left knee discomfort. C Eric Fryer, claimed on waivers from St. Louis on Sunday, was activated for Monday’s game. RHP Rob Scahill was designated for assignment.

Cardinals: OF Tommy Pham was scratched from the starting lineup minutes before the game with right shoulder stiffness. LHP Kevin Siegrist remains on the 15-day disabled list due to mononucleosis. He is expected to be out until after the All-Star break.


RHP Mike Leake (5-6, 4.13) will take on RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.86) in the second game of the four-game series on Tuesday night. Leake has won eight of his last nine decisions against the Pirates. Taillon, making his sixth start, was selected as the second overall pick in the 2010 draft.