Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/15/14
A.J. Burnett followed up Francisco Liriano’s seven strong innings with his own quality start. (Photo Credit: David Hague) SAN DIEGO — The one-two punch of Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett turned around the Pirates’ bad-luck losses by leading the charge on back-to-back wins. “Obviously you’re not gonna punch out 13 like [Liriano],” Burnett said. “At the same time you want to go out, keep your team in it and keep it rolling.” The two staff aces each delivered a seven-inning pitching gem, and Burnett gave up just one run Tuesday night in the Bucs’ 8-1 win over the San Diego Padres. Coming off his worst two-start combination of the year, allowing five earned runs in each outing, the veteran sliced through the Padres’ lineup for his first road win since June 8. “Man, I don’t even remember the last start,” Burnett said. “I had guys diving left and right behind me today.” It was also Burnett’s first victory in San Diego since his 2001 no-hitter at Qualcomm Stadium. The Padres’ dropped in four hits on him Tuesday night, but the defense turned 15 of 19 batted balls into outs. In six of Burnett’s seven innings, he did not allow any San Diego baserunners into scoring position, and his only mistake pitch was a 1-2 fastball that rookie Jedd Gyorko blasted into the left-field seats for his 14th home run. Burnett also had to navigate a Pedro Alvarez bobbling error at third base, a Will Venable single and a two-out walk to get out of the 3rd inning. Burnett used a dropping curveball to strike out strong-hitting Yonder Alonso and leave the bases loaded. “[I] just tried to stay hard in,” Burnett said. “I finally was able to find a hook I didn’t have the first couple innings. It played in well.” His manager called the 3rd inning “challenging,” but after Gyorko’s 4th-inning homer, Burnett retired 12 of his last 14 hitters . He exited to a standing ovation from a dense group of black-and-gold-clad, Terrible-Towel-waving Pirates fans behind the visitors’ dugout. “We’ve got Pirates fans everywhere, coming out of the woodwork,” Burnett said. “It’s a good thing, though. It’s fun to have your fans out.” Offense Closes The Gap Neil Walker is hitting .329 with a .859 OPS in the month of August. (Photo Credit: David Hague) When Burnett left in the 7th having thrown 112 pitches, those West Coast Pirates fans were out-cheering the Padres faithful. Pittsburgh’s hitters did not give the San Diego crowd much to enjoy. Padres starter Tyson Ross entered Tuesday having pitched five straight quality starts. Neil Walker attacked right away by pummeling a hitter’s count fastball over the right-center-field fence for his 8th home run. “I had never seen this guy,” Walker said. “I was fortunate enough to see four fastballs before I drove the one out of the ballpark.” Russell Martin smacked another Ross fastball into the bottom of the right-field wall to score Pedro Alvarez from first base. Alvarez lasered an RBI triple (his career high third triple) to the gap in left-center in the 3rd inning and pushed the Bucs’ lead to 3-0. Manager Clint Hurdle was visibly pleased by the Bucs’ shooting the gap. “It’s something we’ve talked about ever since I’ve been here,” Hurdle said. “This is as small as the park’s ever played. The park’s fair now. The park was a little spacious before.” Bundled insurance arrived for the Pirates when they batted around for five runs in the 7th inning. Jordy Mercer led off by dropping in a single, and Ross walked Burnett even though the opposing pitcher was showing bunt. Reliever Dale Thayer replaced Ross, who allowed a season-worst four earned runs, and Andrew McCutchen smashed an opposite-field triple to score two runs. Josh Harrison got the pinch-hit call with the bases loaded and got all three runners home. (Photo Credit: David Hague) Next Padres reliever Colt Hynes walked his first two batters, then pinch-hitter Josh Harrison stepped in for the chanced to pour on more runs. “It’s bases loaded with the chance to blow the game open,” Harrison said. “Over the past year and a half I’ve learned a lot, how to approach each at-bat depending on the situation… when to be aggressive and when to work counts.” Harrison chose aggressive, crushing his own triple to center field, clearing the bases and commanding an 8-1 Pirates lead. The three triples tied a season high, the eight runs were the most support Burnett received all year and the seven-run win marked the Pirates’ largest margin of victory on the road since May 11. Starting Pitching Force Vin Mazzaro and Jared Hughes wrapped up the victory with a scoreless inning each, putting the Pirates two games ahead of St. Louis for first place in the NL Central. Hurdle recognized the value of Burnett getting “back in the right lane.” The manager’s top two starters collected 20 strikeouts to set up a potential road sweep Wednesday, which would be the team’s first since late June in Anaheim and Seattle. “When you’re not putting the ball in play, it can make things less challenging,” Hurdle said. “When Lirano and Burnett are on their game, they can be a force, and they can beat good teams.”
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Russell Wilson smashes HR in Rangers BP

John Fox: Jay Cutler will have to earn starting QB job

Report: Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall candidates for Texas

Kurt Warner is helping to turn around Colin Kaepernick

Bizarre call allows Duke to cover spread against Utah

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Saints love TE Josh Hill following Jimmy Graham trade

Darren Sproles' role is growing for the Eagles

Barkley, Reggie Miller condemn Indiana religious freedom bill

Metta World Peace interested in coaching at St John's

Knicks want Marc Gasol, do they know what they’re asking for?

New York Rangers are the first team to clinch a playoff spot

Bruins coach suits up as backup goalie

Tennessee fans show love for Bruce Pearl on campus rock

Louisville guard turned off phone after clutch NC State win

Steve Spurrier hung out with Kenny Chesney before concert

Winnipeg Jets prospect had a rough night on the ice

Russell Wilson to suit up for Texas Rangers Saturday

Did Dean Smith’s gifts to former players violate NCAA rules?

WWE unveils Ultimate Warrior statue

WATCH: Tom Brady jumps off tall cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Dominique Wilkins in HORSE

Angels remove Josh Hamilton banner from front of stadium

Elite Eight preview: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Fox: Cutler will have to earn job

Texas eyeing Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall?

WATCH: Brady jumps off cliff in Costa Rica

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.