Burnett pitches complete game in 5-1 Pirates win
By Karen Price
Published: Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, 5:03 p.m.
A.J. Burnett has said repeatedly since joining the Pirates in 2012 that he isn't here for his statistics, but to help the team get to the playoffs.
Still, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a little personal success, especially when it comes in such dominating a fashion as Sunday's complete-game, 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park.
Burnett slapped the ground after the Pirates finished off a game-ending double-play, then turned to catcher Russell Martin, whose three-run homer in the fifth inning gave the right-hander some breathing room. The two former Yankees teammates, who were reunited this year, hugged as the sellout crowd of 37,980 erupted.
“I've had some good ones, but being able to control everything felt good,” Burnett said of the outing. “Russ called a great game, and he came through. He's always bragging about how he used to hit when I pitched, so he was happy that he did today. Great defense all the way, and it was a good follow-up taking the ball behind (Francisco Liriano on Saturday). You just want to repeat what he did and pass the baton to the next guy.”
Burnett held the Rockies scoreless until Jonathan Herrera hit a two-out RBI single in the seventh inning.
Manager Clint Hurdle said it's the best he has seen the right-hander pitch all season.
“Best stuff, best command, focus, rhythm, tempo, pitch efficiency,” Hurdle said. “Fourteen guys retired on three pitches or less, 26 of 33 first-pitch strikes. Numbers off the charts.”
Burnett (5-7) finished at 110 pitches. He allowed eight hits, struck out nine and walked one in his first complete game of the season and the 23rd of his career. He gave up a one-out single to Michael Cuddyer in the ninth — closer Mark Melancon was warming up in the bullpen — before Todd Helton grounded into the double play.
Burnett entered the game with a 2.86 ERA, but he has been a victim of poor run support — three runs per game in his first 19 starts. He also hadn't gotten a win since June 8 at Chicago, with four no-decisions in his previous five starts since coming off the disabled list July 7 with a right calf strain.
The Pirates took a 1-0 first-inning lead on Andrew McCutchen's RBI single, and were poised to bust the game open in the third. With the bases loaded and no outs, Martin hit a grounder to third. Third baseman DJ LeMahieu stepped on the bag and McCutchen, who was at second, was out but continued on to third and stood on the base.
LeMahieu threw home to catcher Yorvit Torrealba, but Walker knew the force had been removed and went back to third. Torrealba, unaware that LeMahieu stepped on third, chased Walker and tagged him. But the Pirates' second baseman was safe and scored on a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones.
“Extremely good baserunning, smart awareness to keep the inning alive,” Hurdle said.
With runners on first and second, one out and starter Juan Nicasio at 103 pitches in the fifth, Rockies manager Walt Weiss decided to make a pitching change.
Manny Corpas delivered his first pitch of the game, and Martin knocked it into the left field seats for his 10th homer.
“We hadn't really had that much run support for (Burnett) throughout the year,” Martin said. “I was looking at his numbers, and I think he has a better ERA than (Detroit's Max) Scherzer, and Scherzer's 16-1. But he goes out there and competes. He's a gamer. It was just nice to get him some runs and give him some support.”
After losing two games in a row, the Pirates have won two straight with an off-day Monday before the Miami Marlins come to town.
Sunday's game was the 12th sellout of the year and brought the series attendance to 113,891, the third-largest, three-date series crowd in PNC Park history.
“It's been a great season all around, packing this place in,” Burnett said. “They know what's at stake, and they know what kind of team we have. They know it's different. … They're in every pitch, too, and the A.J. chants give you goosebumps on the mound in the ninth inning. It was fun.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McCutchen proposes to girlfriend on DeGeneres show
- Pirates sign Morton to 3-year extension
- Pirates make inquiry into former Cy Young winner Johan Santana
- Police: Driver fell unconscious before Seton Hill bus crash
- PNC plans to do away with tellers
- Keno, lottery privatization could come before Pennsylvania Senate
- Cold weather could impact Thursday hours at Peoples Gas Holiday Market
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- Starkey: NHL stuck in stone age
- Steelers defense’s rapid decline looks similar to that of Steel Curtain’s
- Small group of Municipal Authority customers from North Huntingdon, Penn Twp. to pay more