Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - The calendar is about to turn to August, and the Pittsburgh Pirates own a 2 1/2-game lead in the National League Central.
Russell Martin came through with the deciding hit, a tie-breaking single in the bottom of the eighth inning, and the die-hard Pirates lengthened their lead atop the division with a 5-4 come-from-behind decision over the slumping St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.
Martin, Neil Walker and Clint Barmes each finished with two hits and an RBI to help Pittsburgh twice battle back from two-run deficits, while the bullpen turned in five scoreless innings to offset an uncharacteristic rough outing from starter Jeff Locke.
The Pirates have now taken the first four tests of this critical five-game set between the NL Central's top two clubs and won five of six overall.
St. Louis, on the other hand, was dealt its seventh consecutive defeat after failing to hold on to a 4-2 lead after 3 1/2 innings. It's the Cardinals' longest losing streak since a seven-game slide during June of their eventual 2011 World Series championship season.
Matt Holliday went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Carlos Beltran had a pair of hits and two runs scored for St. Louis, but Trevor Rosenthal (1-2) was reached for a run on two hits after taking over for Adam Wainwright to start the bottom of the eighth.
Wainwright worked the first seven innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. Locke lasted just four frames and was tagged for four runs on 10 hits despite fanning six.