As A.J. Burnett walked off the field in the seventh inning the cheers began to pick up. After a 1-2-3 eighth they got louder and louder still when he took the mound for the ninth. The sellout crowd of 37980 Sunday afternoon at PNC Park realized what was happening. A.J. Burnett was in the midst of an A.J. Burnett start. "It's been a great season all around packing this place in" Burnett said. "They know what's at stake. They know what kind of team we have. They know it's different." Burnett had good command of his knuckle-curve. He struck out batters. He kept batted balls on the ground. He did all those things efficiently enough to pitch a complete game against the Colorado Rockies giving the Pirates a 5-1 win and ensuring they took two out of three games in the series. Burnett (5-7) held the Rockies to one run on eight hits. He struck out nine and walked one. The complete game also ensured two full days of rest for the bullpen including the team's off day today. "You take pride in finishing what you started. All those guys down there they could use a break" Burnett said nodding toward the relievers at the other end of the clubhouse. Burnett pitched seven innings in each of his previous two outings but threw 107 and 113 pitches. He needed only 110 to go the distance Sunday and 83 were strikes. "He had good command of both the sinker and the four-seamer and he was just working on the edges" said catcher Russell Martin who hit a three-run home run in the fifth. "And when he wasn't working on the edges it was down in the zone and moving. He kept his pitch count low. "That's one of the things with A.J. He's got such good stuff it takes him a while to get hitters to put the ball in play and [Sunday] he was just electric." Burnett received support from an offense that waited out Rockies starter Juan Nicasio and took advantage of the bullpen. The Pirates had eight hits including three for extra bases. Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 3. Duress in every inning but one inflated Nicasio's pitch count and he needed 103 to get through 41/3 innings. Nicasio (6-6) was charged with four runs on six hits and three walks.
Burnett helps lift Pirates to 5-1 win against Rockies
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Aug 5