What looked to be a promising start quickly took a turn for the worse for Burnett, who came into the game tied for second in the National League in strikeouts with the New York Mets Matt Harvey at 89.
After breezing through the first three innings in the humid Georgia heat, Burnett ran into some trouble in the fourth inning. Holding a 1-0 lead after a Gaby Sanchez ground-rule double in the top of the third inning, Burnett couldn’t hold onto the lead in the fourth.
Following a leadoff walk to Freddie Freeman, Brian McCann hit a two-run homerun to give the Braves a 2-1 lead. It was McCann’s seventh homer of the season.
In a weird series of events a few batters later, home plate umpire Dan Iassogna started to squeeze Burnett’s strike zone, at least according to the Pirates’ veteran. Burnett said something to Iassogna about it, genturing from the mound. After another pitch that Burnett took exception to, Pirates catcher Russell Martin muttered something under his breath and was ejected from the game, as was manager Clint Hurdle, who came out to defend Martin.
Burnett got out of the inning, but ran into trouble again in the fifth.
Andrelton Simmons reached on an infield single to lead off the inning. Then, just like the fourth inning, the Braves got a two-run homerun, this time from Jason Heyward. After Heyward went deep, Justin Upton followed with a single. Freeman then hit a two-run homerun, the Braves third two-run homer of the game, to give them a 6-1 lead.
Chris Johnson added a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, giving the Braves a 7-1 lead.
Clint Barmes drove in a meaningless run in the top of the ninth on an RBI double, closing the gap to 7-2.
For the Pirates, Burnett pitched five innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits while striking out five and walking three. With the loss, Burnett drops to 3-6 on the season. Jared Hughes pitched a scoreless inning in relief, allowing just one hit. Mike Zagurski’s struggles continued. In just 2-3 of an inning, Zagurski allowed one earned run on one hit, but he walked three. Ryan Reid, making his big league debut, pitched 1 1-3 innings of perfect baseball.
Starling Marte went 2-for-4 with two singles. Gaby Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a single and an RBI double and Clint Barmes went 2-for-4 with a single and an RBI double. Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Burnett each had a hit for Pittsburgh.
For the Braves, starter Kris Medlen pitched seven innings allowing seven hits. He struck out six batters and allowed just one run. With the win, Medlen improves to 2-6 on the season. Alex Wood pitched the final two innings, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out two batters and walked one.
Heyward, McCann and Chris Johnson each picked up two hits for the Braves.
The teams will be back in action tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. as Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.25 ERA) squares off against Mike Minor (7-2, 2.48 ERA).