A.J. Burnett paused on the mound when he took the field for the bottom of the first Sunday afternoon at PNC Park. He came from the visiting dugout in his Philadelphia Phillies gray and red, yet there he was on the scoreboard in Pirates black as part of a tribute video. Even his old Pirates entrance music, Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People," made one final cameo. Burnett tipped his hat to both sides of PNC Park, then toward the Pirates dugout, and proceeded to warm up. Burnett pitched well, but his good friend Jeff Locke spoiled his return by pitching the Pirates to a 6-2 victory. The Pirates earned their first series sweep this season after missing out on the first eight opportunities and won for the 12th time in 15 games to improve to 47-41. "It feels good, especially a team like those guys over there, especially when [Marlon] Byrd and A.J. come back again, when we happen to pack the place all three days, play three great games of baseball," Locke said. Locke (2-1) pitched eight innings and allowed two runs, one earned. He gave up three hits and induced 15 ground-ball outs. He and Burnett saw each other near the bullpen before they began warming up. Their exchange was brief: Have fun today, go get 'em, pound down. "It was a lot of fun," Locke said. "It didn't even feel like we were playing a Major League Baseball game." The one walk Locke issued was to Burnett to start the third, a plate appearance Locke is sure to hear about in the future. "We've got to let him feel it in[side]," Locke joked. "If that's the only walk of the day, we'll take it." In six starts since permanently joining the rotation, Locke has a 2.23 ERA and 25 strikeouts compared to six walks in 441/3 innings. He has pitched seven or more innings in five of those starts. Burnett (5-8) pitched seven innings and allowed three runs, striking out seven. A Pedro Alvarez throwing error with two outs in the first allowed Jimmy Rollins to reach second base. Byrd's single scored a run. Josh Harrison later took over at third base as a defensive replacement for Alvarez, who has made several throwing errors this season.
Pirates, Locke top Burnett, Phillies, 6-2, to sweep series
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Jul 7