Win: A.J. Burnett (10-2)
Loss: Tim Lincecum (3-10)
PITTSBURGH — Andew McCutchen (.362 – 18 HR – 62 RBI) belted a two-run homer off Tim Lincecum in the bottom of the 1st and the Pittsburgh Pirates (48-37)Â would never look back, routing the San Francisco Giants 13-2 at PNC Park on Sunday afternoon, taking two of three from the Giants.
Pittsburgh heads into the All-Star Break in first place with a record of 48-37, moving 11 games above .500 with the win.
“This was a good series for us as a team, ” second baseman Neil Walker said. “Not a better way I can think of going into the All-Star Break with a 6-1 home stand. The confidence in here is at an all-time high, ” Walker said.
McCutchen who leads the MajorsÂ with a .362Â batting average, added his second home run of game in the bottom of the 7th with a two-run shot for his 18th of the season, collecting his 7th multi home run game of his career and 3rd this year.
McCutchen who is locked in, went 3-5 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs, but alsoÂ got a lot of help behind him as the Pirates put up 17 hits in the victory.
Neil Walker (.291 – 6 HR – 41 RBI) went 5-5 with a home run, 2 RBIs, 3 runs scored and a double, while Casey McGehee (.252 – 6 HR – 29 RBI) continued his hot bat and added 3 hits and 2 RBIs. Even pitcher A.J. Burnett got into the action, delivering an RBI single in the bottom of the 4th.
On the mound Burnett was excellent, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings, earning his 10th victory of the season.
“We were good all over the board today, ” manager Clint Hurdle said. “AJ was very effective, very efficient, very strong. We needed a strong outing and he wanted to bounce back from his last outing at home and he did that. Offensively we showed up very good, had good at-bats, competed well in batters box, ran bases well….. just a nice finish.”
The Pirates enter the All-Star Break in first place for the first time since 1997 when they were 43-43. “We’ve worked hard to get where we are, ” Hurdle said. “We’ve earned our way so far. “We’ll start off 0-0 in second half and go toÂ work. I want us to stay focused forward and we’ll continue to knock them down one game at a time. That’s what suits us best. A lot can happen in front of you and there’s a lot of unknown. We’re confident about our abilities and our strengths and we know the areas we have to continue to work and improve.”
The Pirates winners inÂ ten of their lastÂ twelve games, return from the break Friday night with six game road trip that begins against the Milwaukee Brewers. Friday night’sÂ game will feature James McDonald (9-3, 2.37 ERA) vs Zach Greinke (9-3, 3.32 ERA).
— When leaving in the top of the seventh inning with one out, Pirate fans gave A.J. Burnett a thunderous ovation for the veteran who earned his 10th win of the season. He’s been embraced by the city and Burnett has become a perfect fit for this team on the field and off it. “Just having a good time with these guys, ” Burnett said. “Coming over here and I wanted to be apart of something specialÂ and we’re building something special.Â I’m proud to be able to take the mound for these guys”. Burnett cruised on the afternoon and was dominant at times, retiring 13 straight batters at one point and didn’t surrender a run until Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer off him with the Pirates up 10-0. Burnett has not lost since May 2nd and he didn’t win his 10th game last season until September 13th.
— Manager Clint Hurdle will reconfigure his starting rotation coming out of the break and go away from using James McDonald and A.J. Burnett back-to-back. The rotation will go in this order: James McDonald, Kevin Correia, A.J. Burnett, Jeff Karstens, Erik Bedard. Hurdle is looking to give the opposition a different look every day and I’m sure spacing out Correia and Bedard is about not taxing the bullpen. “We really wanted to separate James and A.J., ” Hurdle said. “Also wanted to separate Karstens and Correia. We also wanted to give a different look everyday on the mound.”
— Andrew McCutchen heads to the All-Star Break leading the Majors with a .362 batting average and is 2nd in the Majors with a 1.309 OPS. McCutchen will take part in the Home Run derby and said today that his girlfriend had to talk him into it. “I never thought I’d be in a home run derby ever, ” McCutchen said….. “My girlfriend talked me into it.”
— Neil Walker extended his hitting streak to 12 games in a huge day at the plate for him. During his 12 game hitting streak, Walker is hitting .489 with 2 home runs, 11 RBIs, and 7 doubles. Walker’s .291 batting average and 21 doubles ranks 5th among all second baseman in the Majors. Walker who hit .366 last July, appears primed for a big second half of the season. “I feel good at the plate and I’m happy about that, ” Walker said. “I feel good, obviously more happy with the way we’re playing as a team. Five hits is something that comes about very rarely, ” Walker said.
— Casey McGehee went 3-4 with 2 RBIs and a doubleÂ but came up with a groin pull in the bottom of the 6th with a shot to deep center. McGehee exited the game and there was no update on him after the game.