PITTSBURGH 6 – CINCINNATI 2
Win: A.J. Burnett (14-3)
Loss: Homer Bailey (9-7)
Save: Joel Hanrahan (32)
Manager Clint Hurdle’s decision on Thursday to move A.J. Burnett (14-3, 3.19 ERA) up in the rotation showed how important Hurdle felt the Pirates three game series with Cincinnati was going to be, and Burnett delivered on Sunday afternoon playing the role he has played all season as the staff’s “ace” and so called “stopper” in the Pirates 6-2 win over the Reds,avoiding a three game sweep.
Burnett improving to 14-3 on the season, allowed three hits and two runs in 8 2/3 innings, striking out seven and walking three in the win. Burnett was dominant for the second straight start, allowing just one hit after the first inning and retired 18 straight batters before giving up two walks with two outs in the ninth. Joel Hanrahan closed out the 9th for the save.
Burnett is now 3-0 against the Reds this season and tied for first in the NL in wins.
The Pirates improved to 61-46 on the season and trail the Reds by 4.5 games for the division lead going into Monday’s action. The Reds came into today’s game winners in 22 of their last 25 games. The Pirates were competitive in all three games and It’s a series they should feel good about even if they didn’t see the Reds two best players Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, in addition to avoiding the Reds ace Johnny Cueto.
— Starling Marte (.238 – 2 HR – 6 RBI) broke the game open in the top of the 4th, hitting a triple to deep right, scoring Gabby Sanchez and Clint Barmes as the Pirates took a 4-2 lead and never looked back.
— Neil Walker (.292 – 12 HR – 58 RBI) hit a two-run home run in the second inning, tying his career in home runs with 12. Walking went 3-5 in the win.
— Andrew McCutchen (.368 – 23 HR – 67 RBI) hit a solo home run in the 9th, his 23rd of the season (tied career high) and first home run since July 17th.
Next up: The Pirates return home for an 11 game homestand, beginning Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks for a four game set, followed by a three game set with San Diego and a four game set with Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s a big homestand for the Pirates as the Pirates lead the Diamondbacks by 6.5 games in the wildcard race and 3.5 games over the Dodgers.