Ryan Doumit had a big chunk of his season wiped out by an injury. He seems intent on making up for lost time.
Doumit went 4 for 4 and hit a tiebreaking three-run home run to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night.
Doumit's homer in the fourth inning off Jake Westbrook (9-7) snapped a 1-1 tie and helped Pittsburgh break its three-game losing streak. The switch-hitting catcher matched a career high with his sixth four-hit game.
Doumit was on the disabled list from May 30-Aug. 2 after suffering a severely sprained left ankle in a home plate collision. He is 10 for 23 (.435) in eight games since being activated.
"There is always concern when somebody is coming back after being out for so long but he's come back as clean as any player I've ever had," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's been in a pretty good place. He's seeing the ball extremely well and he's working extremely hard."
Doumit, who has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, couldn't come up with a reason for why he is hitting so well since his return.
"I really can't put my finger on it," he said. "I'm riding the wave right now and I just want to keep riding it as long as I can."
St. Louis, which had won three of its last four, fell six games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central. The Brewers blanked the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 on Monday night.
Xavier Paul, who homered, and Neil Walker each had two hits for the Pirates, and James McDonald (8-6) pitched 5 2-3 uneven innings to end his three-start winless streak. McDonald allowed two runs and six hits while walking two and striking out four.
"It was a good win for the team and that's the most important thing because we had a pretty tough ending to our road trip," Doumit said, referring to the Pirates being swept in a three-game weekend series at Milwaukee.
The Cardinals' Ryan Theriot had three hits and Matt Holliday doubled twice, including the 200th of his career.
St. Louis went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base.
"The name of the game is execution," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We had a double twice and didn't score a run. A lot of that is their pitching but some of it was we could have done a better job."
Westbrook gave up five runs, four earned, and nine hits in 5 2-3 innings while walking one and striking out three.
Jose Veras got what was likely the biggest out of the game for Pittsburgh when he relieved Daniel McCutchen in the seventh. With two outs and runners on first and second with a 5-2 lead, Veras got Albert Pujols to look at a called third strike on a curveball on the inside corner.
"It mano-a-mano right there," Doumit said. "You know Albert is coming up ready to do some damage but Jose has great stuff with his fastball and curveball. We decided to go with the curve to keep him off balance and get him out, and it worked."
Pujols went 1 for 4 with a single one night after taking over the NL home run lead with 29. He is looking to hit 30 homers for the 11th consecutive season.
Paul opened the scoring when he led off the bottom of the first inning with his second home run of the season and third of his career.
The Cardinals tied it in the third as Rafael Furcal's two-out double drove in Theriot, who led off with a single and advanced to second on Westbrook's sacrifice bunt.
Doumit hit his sixth homer in the fourth on an 0-1 curveball to put the Pirates ahead. Walker and Garrett Jones led off the inning with singles and Doumit followed with a drive to right field.
"They capitalized on the mistakes that I made," Westbrook said. "I felt strong about my sinker and it's a little frustrating to get hurt on my fifth-best pitch on the home run."
David Freese's RBI single chased McDonald in the top of the sixth but Pittsburgh got the run back in the bottom of the inning on a throwing error by shortstop Furcal.
Walker doubled home a run in the seventh to push the Pirates' lead to 6-2.
The Pirates won the opener of their six-game homestand after going 0-7 the last time they were at PNC Park. It was their longest winless homestand in the franchise's 125-year history.
"We've already won one more game at home this time," Hurdle said with a smile. "Good for us."
Notes: Pirates LF Jose Tabata, on the disabled list since June 27 with a strained left quadriceps, returned to Pittsburgh to be examined by team doctors after hitting .333 (11 for 33) with six doubles and two RBIs in nine games with Triple-A Indianapolis on a rehabilitation assignment. If cleared by doctors, Tabata could be activated Tuesday. ... St. Louis RHP Edwin Jackson is expected to make his next scheduled Saturday against the Cubs at Chicago. A cramp in his right hamstring forced Jackson out in the sixth inning of Sunday night's victory over Colorado. ... St. Louis signed OF Charlie Tilson, their second-round draft pick from New Trier (Ill.) High School, beating the midnight deadline for agreeing to terms with drafted players. ... Chris Carpenter (8-8) starts for St. Louis against Jeff Karstens (9-6) on Tuesday night in the middle game of the three-game series. Carpenter is 12-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 17 career starts against Pittsburgh and has also gone 7-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 10 starts since June 20. Karstens has won six of his last eight decisions.