Though the Pirates struggled at times this season to give A.J. Burnett run support, Sunday afternoon at PNC Park was a different story.
The Bucs offense exploded for three runs in the fifth inning, adding on to their 2-0 lead at the time to give Burnett (5-7, 2.73 ERA) even more than what he needed to silence the Colorado Rockies by a score of 5-1.
Russell Martin and Andrew McCutchen provided the offense on the day for the Bucs, culminating with Martin’s three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning to put Pittsburgh up 5-0. Martin’s homer ensured the victory, Burnett’s first since June 8 against the Chicago Cubs.
Like most of the season, Burnett was magnificent again. He had full command of his arsenal of pitches, issuing only one walk and striking out nine. The Rockies couldn’t get anything going against Burnett, and they only tallied one run—a late, two-out single in the seventh to set the final score, 5-1.
The Pirates other two runs came in the third and fifth innings. Andrew McCutchen singled to right field in the first, scoring Starling Marte and giving Pittsburgh an early 1-0 lead.
Garrett Jones hit a sacrifice fly into center field, scoring Neil Walker in the bottom half of the third and putting the Bucs up 2-0.
With the victory, the Pirates sit atop the N.L. Central at 67-44, 23 games over .500 and a record good enough to tie the Boston Red Sox for the best record in Major League Baseball.
The Bucs have an off day on Monday and return to action on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins at PNC Park. Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.36 ERA) takes on Henderson Alvarez (2-1, 2.61 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.