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The drought is over

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ST. LOUIS — The Pirates have homered in seven straight games, their longest streak since Aug. 31-Sept. 7, 2010. If they go deep twice today, they will shatter the franchise record of 39 home runs in June and extend their string to eight games for the first time since June 10-19, 2008. It is, as someone pointed out this morning to manager Clint Hurdle, an astronomical pace.

“The pace for the first two months was astronomical as well,” Hurdle said. “That’s the context I keep it in. You spread it over three months and it all makes sense. You package it into one month, and you go, ‘Whoa!’ But so does the two-month drought before. For me, it was going to come. I believed it would come. It’s come this month — hard and heavy. But there was a dought for the first two months.”

»»» RHP Brad Lincoln will not be available out of the bullpen today and tomorrow. Hurdle would prefer to use Lincoln only in two- or three-inning outings to keep him stretched out in case they need a spot start.

»»» The Pirates have won 10 of their past 13 games against NL Central foes.

»»» Pedro Alvarez has hit 11 of his 14 home runs in day games. Over his past three road day games, he is 6 for 11, including five homers, with 10 RBI.

»»» Neil Walker has collected 116 RBI since the start of the 2011 season. That’s the fifth-most RBI in that span among all second basemen and second-most in the NL behind Brandon Phillips (128 RBI).

Game 77: Pirates @ Cardinals 1:15 p.m. ET

Pirates (41-35): 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Jose Tabata rf, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, 4. Garrett Jones rf, 5. Neil Walker 2b, 6. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 7. Clint Barmes ss, 8. Michael McKenry c, 9. Jeff Karstens rhp (0-2, 6.35)

Cardinals (40-37): 1. Skip Schumaker 2b, 2. Jon Jay cf, 3. Matt Holliday lf, 4. Carlos Beltran rf, 5. Allen Craig 1b, 6. David Freese 3b, 7. Daniel Descalso ss, 8. Tony Cruz c, 9. Lance Lynn rhp (10-3, 3.23)

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