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Baseball / Sports

Pirates keep Phillies on the skids

PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett received a warm welcome back to Pittsburgh from the fans, but his former Pirates teammates weren't so cordial.

Making his first trip back to PNC Park since he signed with the Phillies as a free agent in the offseason, Burnett saw his solid pitching effort go to waste as the Pirates beat the Phillies, 6-2, to sweep the three-game series Sunday at PNC Park.

The Phillies (37-51) have lost nine of 10 and 13 of their last 16 games. They were outscored by 17-6 in the three games.

Burnett spent just two years in Pittsburgh, but he made a favorable impression. Last season he helped the Pirates earn their first postseason berth since 1992. Before he took the mound in the first inning, the crowd gave him an extended ovation. Burnett tipped his cap in appreciation.

Pittsburgh then scored two first-inning runs on two-out singles by Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker and a two-run double by Russell Martin off a 95-m.p.h. fastball.

McCutchen's single showed why he is among the top offensive threats in the game, with the enviable combination of power and speed. He hit a sharp grounder that third baseman Cody Asche gloved on a diving stop to his left. The fleet McCutchen beat the throw.

Burnett had three strikeouts in the inning but was also forced to throw 27 pitches.

This came after the Phillies had scored a run to open the game, earning their first and only lead of the series.

Jimmy Rollins reached second base on Pedro Alverez's two-out throwing error and Marlon Byrd delivered an RBI single to left.

Josh Harrison led off the Pirates third inning with a triple to right-center field. He scored on a one-out sacrifice fly to shallow center by Walker. Harrison, as have many Phillies opponents, took advantage of Ben Revere's weak arm.

That was it against Burnett, who allowed three earned runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks in seven innings.

In the seventh, Byrd cut the lead to 3-2 with a one-out home run to left. It was his second in two days and his 18th of the season. That's just six shy of tying his career high of 24, set last year with the New York Mets and the Pirates.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard didn't start for the Phillies, but both pinch-hit in the eighth. Utley flew out to deep right and Howard grounded out to first.

The Pirates put things away with three runs in the eighth against Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman.

Harrison opened the inning by reaching second on a fielding error by Asche at third base. McCutchen then hit a shot to center field that a fan in home run territory touched but then dropped onto the field.

The initial ruling was that the ball was in play all the way and was a triple. Upon review it was determined that the fan did touch the ball, causing interference. The umpires determined that McCutchen should have been awarded third base, so nothing really changed.

The Pirates added runs on an RBI single by Starling Marte and a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer.

(c)2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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