Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage hated to talk to right-hander A.J. Burnett in the ninth inning Saturday. Burnett was two outs from notching what would have been the Pirates' first complete game of the season. He'd held the Chicago Cubs to three hits to that point and was dominant in every phase. “His poise and rhythm were so beautiful,” Searage said. “He sprayed the fastball around the zone to keep that curveball as his go-to pitch. He had good pop and good life on the fastball. His rhythm was really nice to watch. It was like poetry in motion.” Yet, Burnett was nearing the predetermined limit of 115 pitches and was beginning to tire. Searage walked to the mound, and Burnett tried to wave him off. OK, one more batter. Burnett got his wish, and Alfonso Soriano ripped a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers. It ended Burnett's day but was the only blemish on an otherwise sparkling outing as the Pirates cruised past the Cubs, 6-2. Burnett pitched 81⁄3 innings, the deepest a Pirates starter has gone all season. He yielded four hits and three walks. “I did all right,” Burnett said. “I had some great defense behind me, and I needed it. You want to finish what you start. That pitch (to Soriano) was the only ball I hung, and he did what he's supposed to with it.” Burnett (4-6) got five strikeouts, his second-lowest output in 14 starts this season. But he threw first-pitch strikes to 24 of 31 batters — keeping the Cubs off-balance — and induced 12 groundball outs. “They hit some balls hard that were caught,” Pirates catcher Russell Martin said. “But for the most part, he was throwing strikes and wasn't walking guys. He threw the breaking ball for a strike when he needed to, and he threw it for chase when he needed to, as well.” The Pirates scored four runs in six innings off Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. The right-hander allowed eight hits, including a towering two-run homer by Pedro Alvarez. In his previous four starts against the Pirates, Samardzija had allowed a total of 10 hits.
Burnett pitches Pirates to 6-2 victory over Cubs
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Jun 9