The Pittsburgh Pirates collected their Major League leading sixth series sweep Sunday afternoon as they shut out the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 at PNC Park. The last time the crew of the Jolly Roger swept the Phillies at home was July 2014.
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The victory allowed Clint Hurdle’s squad to improve their record to eight games over .500 at 35-27. The Pirates have gone 7-3 in the last 10 matchups and are in second place in the National League Central Division, six games behind the St. Louis Cardinals (41-21).
Josh Harrison drove in the winning run with a ground ball single to center in the 11th off Philadelphia reliever Jonathan Papelbon that scored Neil Walker from third base. Harrison said on the team’s web site, “Anytime you get a walk-off, it’s always fun. You never want it to get down to that point. You’d like to get the lead before your last at-bat, but that’s one thing about this team. It could be a different guy every night. That’s what we’ve proved.”
A.J. Burnett proved again why he is the Caped Crusader of the North Shore. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound righthander gave the fans a performance to remember as he went nine strong innings, scattering five hits, walking one and striking out four. The North Little Rock, Arkansas native fired 71 of his 101 pitches for strikes in facing 31 batters.
The 38-year-old Burnett’s 1.89 ERA is second in the N.L. to teammate Gerrit Cole’s 1.71 ERA. In fact, in the team’s last turn through the rotation, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Cole, and Burnett have thrown 36 1/3 innings and have permitted just four earned runs. That is good for a remarkable 0.99 ERA since last Tuesday.
Pittsburgh’s bullpen did not shrink from the challenge. Jared Hughes came on in the 10th for the Pirates and did not surrender a hit. The 6-foot-7, 245-pound righthander hurled seven of his 11 pitches for strikes in facing three batters.
It was up to former Phillie Antonio Bastardo to close the door in the the 11th for the Bucs, which he did, in picking up his second win against one loss. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound lefthander delievered eight of his 14 pitches for strikes in facing four opposing hitters.
The Pirates flashed some leather in helping Burnett keep the Phils off the scoreboard. A pair of spectacular catches came in the outfield. Andrew McCutchen made a leaping grab against the center field wall in the first to rob Ryan Howard of extra bases. Next it was Sean Rodriguez‘s turn as he made a diving grab on a sinking liner to right that sent Freddy Galvis back to the dugout in the fifth.
Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels kept the Phillies in the game as he allowed just four hits, walked one, and struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings of work. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound lefthander threw 73 of his 102 pitches for strikes in facing 27 batters.
Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle was thrown out of the contest with two outs in the home half of the ninth for arguing with home-plate umpire Cory Blaser about a low strike call to pinch-hitter Pedro Alvarez. It was the second time this season that Hurdle has been ejected from a game and the 102nd time in his career.
Up Next: The Pirates will attempt to improve their 1-4 mark in interleague play as they host the Chicago White Sox for a pair of contests starting on Monday at PNC Park. It will be a pair of lefthanders in the opening matchup.
The Boys from the South Side of Chicago will send Carlos Rodon (2-0, 2.66 ERA/1.55 WHIP) to the hill. The Bucs will go with Francisco Liriano (3-5, 3.25 ERA/1.02 WHIP). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and the contest will be on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The game went 3:04 and there were 34,518 in attendance at PNC Park…Pittsburgh has gone 14-7 in day games this season…The Pirates are the only team in the National League that has two outfielders with at least 35 RBI apiece. The pair are Starling Marte with 43 and McCutchen with 39…Bucs righthander Mark Melancon has converted a career-high 18 consecutive save opportunities and 20-of-21 overall this season.