Marlon Byrd doesn't view himself as the Pirates' savior. He sees himself as a subset of the equation. The lineup is better with him in it but not by leaps and bounds.

Saturday night at least he made all the difference. Byrd's seventh-inning homer gave the Pirates a 2-1 win against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park and vaulted them back into a tie with the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the National League Central Division with 14 games to play.

"I looked at it as they need another piece of the puzzle" Byrd said of joining the Pirates in a trade from the New York Mets. "The team was still winning just another presence in the lineup. I think the big thing was getting [Justin] Morneau too. Just to add in just to change that two-three-four into two-three-four-five-six. Those are pressure pitches for a pitching staff."

Byrd hit a 1-0 fastball from left-hander James Russell to right-center field for his 23rd home run of the season.

"Sitting on one pitch trying to get a fastball just trying to elevate" he said. "He left it over the plate just enough that I could get a good swing on it."

Byrd continued a trend in the past two games. Jose Tabata also homered Saturday and the Pirates hit three home runs Friday night.

Another seven strong innings from Gerrit Cole kept the game close. He allowed one run on five hits walking three and striking out seven. Tony Watson pitched a perfect eighth and Mark Melancon earned his 15th save.

"The defense picked me up early and allowed me to keep going" said Cole who improved to 8-7.

Cubs starter Scott Baker made his second start of the season after Tommy John ligament replacement surgery. Before his first start back when he allowed two hits in five scoreless innings Sept. 8 against the Milwaukee Brewers he had not pitched in the majors since Sept. 24 2011.

Baker relied almost exclusively on his fastball. He threw only two off-speed pitches of the 26 pitches he threw in the first and second inning then threw four to Jordy Mercer in the third. Of his 75 pitches only 15 were off-speed. He allowed one run on three hits in six innings without a walk.

"He's tough to be patient because he pounds the zone with strikes" Byrd said. "I know he's coming off the surgery he's not 100 percent but he still knows how to pitch. He did a great job."

The Pirates had only two singles off Baker through the first five innings. In the sixth Tabata roped his fifth homer of the year a line drive to center field to tie the score at 1-1. Tabata had not homered since Aug. 16.