Jones, Burres star in Bucs' win over Cards

Jones, Burres star in Bucs' win over Cards

ST. LOUIS -- Overcoming their season-long road woes and Jeff Suppan's seasons-long dominance, the Pirates snapped a pair of skids at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.

Over is the Pirates' five-game road losing streak, a fairly diminutive one in comparison to those endured earlier this season. Over, too, is the string of eight straight losses in St. Louis.

The club has Garrett Jones and Brian Burres, in particular, to thank for that.

Riding Jones' hot bat and Burres' effective start, the Pirates stole a 7-2 win on an evening in which the Cardinals were officially eliminated from postseason contention and Pittsburgh -- via the Mariners' win over Texas -- secured the top pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

The latter, though, wasn't a focus afterward.

Breaking two frustrating streaks was not the only obstacle Pittsburgh faced on Tuesday. Suppan stood in the way, too. His 2-7 record this season was in no way imposing, but it had been over four years since Pittsburgh last defeated the right-hander.

This time, the Pirates got to him early.

Andrew McCutchen scored first, drawing a walk and moving up on a passed ball, before coming home on Suppan's two-base throwing error. That error also allowed Neil Walker to reach, putting him on base when Garrett Jones followed with a homer.

"It was up," Suppan said of the 1-0 changeup. "He's a type of guy that can get his hands extended. I was trying to have some depth on the changeup and it just stayed up."

The two-run blast gives Jones a team-leading 21 homers this season. On Monday, it staked the Pirates to a 3-0 lead.

"He's done pretty good the last few starts [against] us," Jones said of Suppan. "It was nice to get a few runs off him and get him out of there early."

Jones' home run was the first of his three hits on the night. He now has 10 in his last seven games, with much of the credit going a change Jones made in the placement of his hands on the bat. By slightly lowering his hands, Jones is finding it easier to stay up the middle with his swing.

"I got in a funk up there mentally and physically," Jones said, referring to his woeful month of August. "Today, I was able to get a changeup up and away, and I was able to get the good part of the bat on it."

Added manager John Russell, "He feels a lot more comfortable at the plate and you can see it. He's getting to some balls that he wasn't a few weeks ago."

Burres preserved that lead through his 5 2/3-inning start. The Cardinals dented the scoreboard in the second, when catcher Matt Pagnozzi collected his first Major League homer. Ronny Cedeno's throwing error and a pair of walks allowed St. Louis to tack on another run in the third.

From there, Burres put up zeroes. He sailed through his final three innings of work, allowing only two singles and no runner to advance past first.

"When he keeps the ball down, he can be tough," Russell said. "He got through some jams. We made some plays behind him on a couple really hard hit balls. He hung in there."

It was a bounce-back start, too, for Burres, who was knocked out of his outing against the Cardinals in the third inning last week. This time, he limited St. Louis to four hits, three walks and one earned run.

"Last time, I got into a little bit of trouble and couldn't get out of it," he said, insisting that his game plan didn't change. "This time, I made some better pitches and the defense made some good plays behind me."

The bullpen's ability to preserve Burres' strong start rewarded the left-hander with his fourth win of the season. With his record now sitting at 4-4, Burres actually has a chance to be the only Pirates starter to finish above .500.

He'll make his final start of the season on Sunday.

"It's always nice to have one," Burres said, speaking of a winning record.

Jones' run-scoring single -- his ninth RBI in his last seven games -- padded the lead in the sixth. Pittsburgh then broke things open in the eighth with a key hit from pinch-hitter John Bowker.

Bowker came to the plate after Alex Presley was unable to push across a run with one out and the bases loaded. Bowker laid off a first-pitch fastball from reliever Mike MacDougal.

"I just wanted to see what he had," Bowker said. "I had never faced him before."

He then got another fastball -- this one over the heart of the plate -- and drove it into the gap in left-center. All three runners scored.

"When he hits the ball hard, he hits it really hard," Russell said. "It was a great sign."

Evan Meek and Chris Leroux followed Chris Resop and Sean Gallagher with scoreless relief work to close out the victory.

With the win, the Pirates inch up to 16-60 on the road this season. This was just the fifth of those victories to come since the All-Star break.

Pittsburgh needs to win at least two of its final five road games this year to avoid matching the 1963 Mets' 17-63 record away from home. That's the worst road record by any team playing a 162-game schedule.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.