Gerrit Cole struck out a career-high 12 batters in just six innings of work and the Pirates bats came alive, as Pittsburgh salvaged the finale of a four-game set against the San Diego Padres, 10-1, at PNC Park.
Cole (9-7) allowed just one run on four hits and walked only three for the Pirates, who moved within a game of St. Louis for the NL Central lead after the Cardinals lost to Colorado Thursday.
"More often than not, the game starts on the mound and it did today," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. "It was a feel good for everybody today."
Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker each homered during a decisive five-run fourth inning for Pittsburgh, which improved to 4-4 on its current 11-game homestand that ends with a three-game set against Cincinnati beginning on Friday.
Walker ended with four hits and drove in three runs, and Jose Tabata went 2- for-3 with career-high-tying three RBI and two runs scored for the Pirates, who exploded for their highest run total since scoring 10 runs on August 22. Pittsburgh was held to just four runs over the first three games of this series.
"It's a good time for anyone who wants to get hot to get hot," said Hurdle in reference to Walker.
Chris Denorfia went 2-for-3 with a run scored for the Padres, who had a four- game win streak halted and ended a 10-game road trip with a 6-4 mark.
"We played real good baseball and we won like six games on the road," San Diego shortstop Ronny Cedeno said. "We'll still keep playing."
After the teams exchanged first-inning runs, the Pirates, seeking their first post-season berth since 1992, put the game out of reach with a five-run fourth inning.
Alvarez broke the tie with a solo homer to start the inning's scoring. Tabata added a two-run double and Walker followed with a two-run homer for a 6-1 cushion.
All six runs were charged to San Diego starter Ian Kennedy (6-10), who absorbed the loss after allowing eight hits and striking out two in just 3 2/3 innings.
The Pirates put it out of reach in the seventh. Tabata's infield single scored a run and San Diego third baseman Chase Headley's throwing error on the play allowed another run to score. Walker followed with his fourth hit of the day to plate another run.
Walker's last four-hit game came on August 12, 2012, also against the Padres.
In the first inning, Tommy Medica singled home the game's first run for the Padres, but the Pirates answered with a run in the home half of the frame when Tabata scored on an Andrew McCutchen fielder's choice ground out.