May 12, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison (5) watches his three run during the fourth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been a little streaky lately, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Powered by multi-run homers from Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen, the Bucs gained their fourth consecutive victory with a 7-2 decision over the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Pittsburgh (17-16) is back above .500 for the first time in 10 days, as a five-game loser to start the month dropped them three games below the break-even point. The Pirates are 5-1 since, including a critical series win against division-leading St. Louis over the weekend at PNC Park.
The Bucs are still 6 1/2 games behind the Cardinals, but they have stabilized since getting swept by the Redbirds at Busch Stadium, a result that pushed Pittsburgh into fourth place in the National League Central.
The Pirates are now tied for second with the Cubs and – it’s never too early – knotted with Chicago for the NL’s second wild-card position. They’re also a win away from taking a four-game series against the MLB-worst Phillies, who have lost four straight to drop to 11-23.
The struggling Josh Harrison struck perhaps the biggest blow of the night against O’Sullivan, lifting a three-run homer to left field in the fourth to put the Pirates up 3-0. Harrison’s third dinger of the year ended a 2-for-27 drought for last year’s surprising spark plug.
However, even though Burnett mostly cruised through seven innings against his former team – the 38-year-old righty fanned five and walked one – the Phillies cut the deficit to 3-2 in the sixth on RBIs by Ben Revere and Chase Utley.
But Gregory Polanco alleviated any anxiety in the visitors’ dugout when he sliced a two-run single to left-center in the seventh, plating Harrison and catcher Francisco Cervelli, who stroked the second of his two doubles to get the rally started.
McCutchen followed up Polanco’s insurance hit with a blast into the first row of seats in the left-field power alley, the third bomb of the season for the suddenly-surging superstar. McCutchen collected a pair of hits, the third time in the past six games that he’s reached base multiple times.
As for Burnett, he continued to pitch well in his second stint with the Pirates. The Arkansas native actually had his earned-run average rise to 1.60 after allowing two runs Tuesday, but he made efficient work of his seventh start, throwing 65 of his 95 pitches for strikes.
Kang went hitless for the first time in six games, but his leaping catch of Freddy Galvis‘ line drive in the sixth prevented the inning from getting away from Burnett.