A.J. Burnett struck out 12 batters over seven innings, and battery mate Russell Martin slammed a two-run home run, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
The victory moved the Pirates (89-66) back into sole possession of second place in the National League Central Division, a game ahead of the Reds (88-67), and kept them two games behind first-place St. Louis. Four of the Bucs’ remaining seven games are against the Reds. Pittsburgh’s “magic number” for clinching at least a wild card playoff position now stands at three, as Washington’s game with Miami on Saturday night was rained out and was rescheduled as part of a Sunday doubleheader.
Martin’s homer tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning. The Pirates added their other two runs in the sixth frame on a sacrifice fly by Marlon Byrd and an RBI base hit by Pedro Alvarez, who has now driven home 94 runs this season.
Burnett (9-11; 3.39 ERA)became the first Pirates right-hander to ever strike out 200 hitters in one season. He worked seven innings, gave up only two runs and four hits, and walked three batters. Moving back into the closer role for the first time since his stint on the disabled list, Jason Grilli recorded his 31st save. The losing pitcher was Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey, who had no-hit the Pirates last year. took the loss. Bailey (11-11; 3.40 ERA) left after 5-and-two-thirds innings, having surrendered four runs (only two earned runs) on just three hits. He struck out three batters and walked four.
Both teams managed just five hits, with Jose Tabata (now batting .283) going 2-for-4 for the Bucs and former Pirate Ryan Ludwick tallying two hits and an RBI for the Reds. Zach Cozart homered for Cincinnati.
The Pirates’ final home game of the regular season, on Sunday afternoon, will feature rookie southpaw Jeff Locke (10-6; 3.27 ERA) set to face Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (13-11; 3.56 ERA), another former Pirate.