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BASEBALL

Pirates strike first

Alvarez home run keys rout of Cards

Francisco Liriano allowed one run over seven dominant innings, Pedro Alvarez hit his NL-leading 27th home run and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-2, last night.

Liriano (11-4) struck out eight and walked just two to win his fifth straight start. The Pirates kicked off the key series at PNC Park by sending the Cardinals to their fourth straight loss to pull within a half-game of the lead in the NL Central.

Clint Barmes doubled twice and drove in two runs for Pittsburgh. Andrew McCutchen added two hits and an RBI.

Jake Westbrook (7-5) continued to struggle against the Pirates. He fell to 1-8 against Pittsburgh in his career after surrendering four first-inning runs. Matt Carpenter and Shane Robinson hit RBI singles for St. Louis, which has scored just four runs during its longest losing streak of the season.

METS 6, MARLINS 5

Ike Davis had a go-ahead RBI double in a three-run seventh inning, Daniel Murphy drove in three runs, and New York snapped a five-game skid against Miami.

David Aardsma (2-0) pitched an inning in relief of Jeremy Hefner for the win. Bobby Parnell retired Giancarlo Stanton with runners on first and third to end it for his 21st save.

Jeff Mathis drove in two runs for Miami.

Miami’s Jacob Turner was in line for the win when he was pulled with a 5-3 lead after 6  1∕ 3 innings. But Miami relievers Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos (3-4) struggled to get out of the seventh as the Mets scored three runs.

Braves 9, Rockies 8, 10 inn.

Andrelton Simmons drove in Dan Uggla from first base with a triple off Edgmer Escalona in the 10th inning, and Atlanta won its fourth straight game.

After Uggla led off with a walk, Simmons hit the ball too deep into the gap in left-center field for Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler to keep it from reaching the wall.

Scott Downs (1-0) earned the win after being acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels earlier in the day and arriving at Turner Field not long before the first pitch.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Rangers 4, Angels 3

Geovany Soto hit a game-ending homer, the second long ball in the ninth inning for Texas off Los Angeles closer Ernesto Frieri, and Texas snapped a four-game losing streak.

A.J. Pierzynski led off the Texas ninth with a homer to right. Nelson Cruz followed with a single off Frieri (0-3) before David Murphy grounded into a double play. Soto then pulled a full-count pitch into the left-field seats.

Jason Frasor (1-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for the Rangers, three days after he gave up a game-ending homer in an 11-inning loss at Cleveland.

Angels starter Jered Weaver allowed one run with six strikeouts over seven innings. Matt Garza allowed three runs with six strikeouts over seven innings in his second start for Texas since getting traded from the Chicago Cubs.

Indians 3, White Sox 2

Pinch-hitter Jason Giambi homered over the center-field wall leading off the ninth inning to give Cleveland its fifth straight win.

Giambi, batting for struggling Mark Reynolds, belted a 1-1 pitch from Ramon Troncoso (1-3) high over the wall and into the bushes in center. It was the 436th career homer and ninth career walk-off shot for the slugger, who had a bucket of water dumped over his head by teammates after the game.

The Indians moved within 2 1∕2 games of the idle Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.

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