Pittsburgh Pirates defeat St. Louis Cardinals as A.J. Burnett flirts with a no-hitter

April 12, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) delivers a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates split their series with the St. Louis Cardinals after a dominating pitching performance by A.J. Burnett.

From the beginning, Burnett was in control of the Cardinals striking out center fielder Jon Jay on three straight pitches. Burnett has had the strikeout pitch going, and tonight would be no exception.

The Pirates fed off of Burnett’s quick inning with a lead-off triple by Starling Marte that right fielder Carlos Beltran had trouble reading. The triple extended Marte’s hitting streak to 10 games. Then Cardinals’ starter Shelby Miller had a small battle with Travis Snider that resulted in a pop fly that just beat the outstretched glove of second baseman Matt Carpenter.

While the Pirates did score a run, the team had four hits in the inning and were just able to score that one run.

That run though was all Burnett needed. In the second inning, Burnett struck out Carlos Beltran looking, his second strikeout of the game and the 2000th of his career. Burnett is the 68th pitcher to register 2,000 strikeouts.

Burnett would ultimately go on a stretch where he would not allow a hit and he got first pitch strikes en route to an eight strikeout performance. Ultimately Burnett allowed a double in the seventh inning to Beltran to break up the no-hitter. Burnett threw 101 pitches in his outing.

After the first inning, Miller allowed two more hits in his remaining five innings. Still Miller would allow another run on a Neil Walker single. This was caused by an Andrew McCutchen infield single that stretched an extra 90 feet after a throwing error from Daniel Descalso. Garrett Jones then walked before the Walker hit.

The Pirates struck again in the seventh inning. Russell Martin singled and then pinch hitter Alex Presley singled before getting thrown out at second base. Marte then reached first base when David Freese committed the second Cardinals error of the game. The run was scored off reliever Trevor Rosenthal.

Following a quick eighth inning thrown by Mark Melancon, McCutchen singled forcing Rosenthal to come out of the game and be replaced by Randy Choate. When this happened, Manager Clint Hurdle called lefty Garrett Jones back in favor of Gaby Sanchez and the move worked. Sanchez hit a double that scored McCutchen all of the way from first base. After a Walker ground out moved Sanchez to third, Pedro Alvarez singled to left center and the Pirates lead became 5-0.

Tony Watson came in to start the ninth inning and got two Cardinals out ending with another strikeout of Jay. Jason Grilli came in to get the last out and pinch hitter Ty Wigginton to strike out in four pitches ending the game. This gave Burnett his first win of the season.

The Pirates will meet the Atlanta Braves tomorrow night at 7:05 when Jeff Locke (1-1 4.09) gets the ball for the Pirates against Julio Teheran (0-0 7.36).

Of note: Wandy Rodriguez threw a bullpen session today and was announced as the starting pitcher for Friday’s game. While it had been expected for him to make the start, the spot was TBA before the game. Charlie Morton is expected to throw three innings or 50 pitches with Bradenton Thursday as he works to come back from Tommy John surgery.

Topics: A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Starling Marte

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