PITTSBURGH -- This road trip is already better for the Atlanta Braves than the previous one, and they have played only one game.
Right fielder Jason Heyward and shortstop Andrelton Simmons led off the game with back-to-back home runs as the Braves scored six runs in the first inning and held on for a 7-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday night.
The Braves lost all eight games on their previous trip to face the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, scoring just 19 runs. They are 1-0 so far on a 10-game trip that includes stops to play the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets.
"This is a carryover of the last five or six days when we've been playing good baseball," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There are ebbs and flows of a season, and hopefully we're on the top of one and we can ride it out a bit."
Heyward hit right-hander Vance Worley's third pitch deep into the right field stands. Two pitches later, Simmons homered into the left field bleachers.
"(Worley) actually made a good pitch and hit his spot," Heyward said. "I was able to put a good swing on it, but it seemed like he started missing a lot after that and we took advantage of it."
Heyward had three hits and two RBIs as the Braves extended their winning streak to four games. He drove in the game's final run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning after leading off the game with a home run for the third time this season and the sixth time in his career.
"He can do a lot of stuff, and we're a good club when he's up there," Gonzalez said of Heyward batting leadoff. "Right off the get-go, the pitcher's got to contend with a guy who can run you out of the ballpark."
The Braves (65-60) remain six games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East.
The Pirates (64-61) dropped their sixth straight game, their longest losing streak since 2012, and fell six games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.
"We've just got to keep doing what we're doing," Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker said. "If you look at mid-May until now, we've been one of the best teams in baseball. I'm not saying something like this was bound to happen. but everyone's going to go through their tough stretches. We're still the same team."
Right-hander Ervin Santana (13-6) got through 5 1/3 shaky innings to win for the sixth time in his past seven starts. He allowed three runs -- all on solo homers -- and nine hits while walking two and striking out four.
Santana has not lost since July 9 against the Mets at New York in his last start before the All-Star break.
"I didn't have my (best) stuff, but for me it was one of my best starts because I only gave up three runs," Santana said.
The Braves collected 15 hits, including two each from first baseman Freddie Freeman, left fielder Justin Upton, third baseman Chris Johnson and catcher Gerald Laird. Upton extended his hitting streak to nine games.
Worley (5-3) did not allow a run after the first while making it through five innings, though he lost his second consecutive start. He gave up nine hits and two walks while striking out eight. Five of the six runs he permitted were earned.
Center fielder Starling Marte hit two home runs and a double for the Pirates, and Walker also homered. It was the second two-homer game of Marte's career.
Walker and left fielder Travis Snider, who ran his hitting streak to nine games, had two hits each.
NOTES: Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is expected to be activated from the disabled list for Tuesday night's game against the Braves. McCutchen, last season's National League MVP, has been out since Aug. 4 with a fracture in his lower left ribcage. He said he felt fine after taking batting practice and running the bases Monday afternoon. ... Pittsburgh 3B Pedro Alvarez started at first base for the first time in his career. ... Pirates SS Jordy Mercer did not start for a fourth consecutive game because of a strained right forearm. ... Atlanta C Evan Gattis and CF B.J. Upton were both rested as the Braves did not arrive in Pittsburgh until 3 a.m. following their Sunday night home game against the Oakland A's. ... Atlanta RHP Aaron Harang (9-7, 3.51 ERA) will start Tuesday night against Pittsburgh LHP Francisco Liriano (3-9, 3.78).