James McDonald halted a string of ineffective starts with six innings of two-hit ball, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 Friday night in a matchup of NL Central playoff contenders.
Andrew McCutchen singled and scored on a passed ball in a two-run fourth for the Pirates, who also scored on a wild pitch that inning.
Pittsburgh totaled 41 runs during its first six games in St. Louis this season.
McDonald (11-5) was 0-2 in his previous four outings while allowing 20 earned runs over 21 1-3 innings.
He coughed up a 7-1 lead in his last start when he allowed six runs in the fifth during a loss to the Padres.