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Alvarez grand slam lifts Pirates over Cardinals

Pedro Alvarez hit a grand slam in the first inning, Jeff Karstens gave up two runs in seven strong frames and the Pittsburgh Pirates took down the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-3, in the middle installment of a three-game series.

Karstens (1-2) gave up four hits while striking out seven and walking two for the Pirates, who have won four in a row. Drew Sutton, Neil Walker and Clint Barmes each had an RBI.

Pittsburgh center fielder Andrew McCutchen left the game in the bottom of the seventh due to soreness in his left wrist. He sustained the injury while sliding for a fly ball in the bottom of the third.

"Sometimes it may not go the way you want it to go, you may get injured," McCutchen said. "But it's part of the game."

Lance Lynn (10-4) allowed six runs on seven hits over five innings to take the loss for the Cardinals, who have dropped three straight. Carlos Beltran, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday each knocked in a run.

Alvarez's grand slam in the first proved to be the difference. With two outs, McCutchen and Garrett Jones singled and Neil Walker walked to load the bases. Alvarez stepped to the plate and smacked Lynn's offering over the wall in right.

"I didn't get it done in the first inning and it cost us the whole game," Lynn said.

The Cardinals managed to get two runs back in the third. Tony Cruz led off with a double off the wall in center and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. After Skip Schumaker walked, Cruz scored when Jay grounded into a fielder's choice. Jay stole second and raced home on Holliday's single to make it 4-2.

Pittsburgh scored a pair of runs in the fifth to make it a four-run game again. Jose Tabata doubled and Jones walked prior to Walker's RBI double down the left-field line. Alvarez was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Barmes plated a run when he grounded into a fielder's choice.

Beltran's RBI double in the eighth cut the gap to 6-3, but Sutton drove in a run in the ninth.

Jared Hughes recorded the final four outs of the game for the Pirates to pick up his first career save.

Game Notes

Karstens improved to 2-2 in eight career games (seven starts) against the Cardinals...Lynn fell to 2-1 in four career games (three starts) against the Pirates...Pittsburgh improved to 4-2 on a seven-game road trip...The Cardinals recalled pitcher Maikel Cleto and purchased the contract of pitcher Barret Browning from Triple-A Memphis. Browning made his MLB debut Saturday with two scoreless innings of relief, while Cleto pitched a spotless eighth. In addition, Pittsburgh optioned pitchers Eduardo Sanchez and Sam Freeman to Memphis and transferred pitcher Kyle McClellan to the 60-day disabled list...Beltran has set a Cardinals season-best by recording an RBI in eight consecutive games.