Cardinals punish Pirates

Thursday, May 3, 2012
Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran is congratulated by teammates after hitting a three-run home run during the third inning Wednesday in St. Louis. (JEFF ROBERSON ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Beltran drove in a career-best seven runs with a pair of three-run home runs an and RBI single in the first three innings to lead the way as the St. Louis Cardinals punished A.J. Burnett and the Pittsburgh Pirates 12-3 on Tuesday night.

Rookie Lance Lynn (5-0) joined Steve Shields as the major leagues' only five-game winners. Lynn allowed three hits and two runs with six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings to beat the Pirates for the second time in three starts. Lynn has a 1.61 ERA as the replacement starter for Chris Carpenter, who is sidelined indefinitely with nerve issues in his right shoulder.

Burnett (1-2) entered with a 1.38 ERA but trailed 4-0 after six pitches. The right-hander surrendered 12 runs on 12 hits over 2 2/3 innings as the Pirates tried to save their bullpen.

The runs allowed topped Burnett's previous worst of nine on four occasions, the last time Aug. 26, 2011 at Baltimore. He allowed 12 or more hits for the seventh time, and he exited one shy of his career worst Aug. 3, 2011 at the Chicago White Sox.

Pirates catcher Rod Barajas was ejected for complaining about home plate umpire Angel Campos' calls in the second inning. He tossed his mask in disgust after a pitch called a ball for a 1-2 count against Beltran. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle subsequently was tossed for defending his player. It was his first ejection of the season and sixth in his second season with Pittsburgh.

Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran hits a three-run home run during the first inning Wednesday in St. Louis. (JEFF ROBERSON ~ Associated Press)

Beltran entered in a 3-for-32 slump with one double and three RBIs in his last nine games. The slump started three games after he was moved to cleanup. He said after batting practice that he hadn't been seeing the ball well but added several times that it was nothing to worry about. It turned around with his first swing, a three-run shot to right that made it 4-0.

Beltran had an RBI single in the second before launching another three-run homer in the third that made it 12-1. The second homer was a drive to left center for his team-leading seventh homer of the season.

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