Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/28/13
Though nothing ever comes easy in the National League Central Division the Pirates simplified their path to home-field advantage in next week's wild-card game. They did so in multiple fashions. They took advantage of gift-wrapped base runners in the early innings. Later they resorted to power hitting. The diverse offensive approach combined with a solid start from A.J. Burnett resulted in a 4-1 win Friday night against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Pirates need to win one of their remaining two games against the Reds to ensure that they will be the host of a one-game wild-card playoff Tuesday night at PNC Park. Charlie Morton takes the mound today followed by Gerrit Cole Sunday if the location of the wild-card game is still in doubt. "That should be motivation to go out there and win" Andrew McCutchen said. "Try to make it easy. Don't wait until the last game just go ahead and try to do it tomorrow." Burnett (10-11) allowed one run in eight innings and struck out six. Manager Clint Hurdle removed him before the ninth and replaced him with Jason Grilli who recorded his 33rd save. Burnett was displeased when Hurdle removed him before the ninth after he retired his final 10 batters and finished strong. "I'm coming off after a good eighth" Burnett said. "In my mind I'm going back out. I don't know what the score is I don't know what the pitch count is. I know that I want to go back out. You're in the zone you're focused you're locked in." A few minutes later after a couple of deep breaths Burnett received hugs in the dugout. "It's all part of being a manager" Hurdle said. "We like A.J. just the way he is. He's got a lot of emotion." Burnett made his previous start against the Reds in PNC Park last week and struck out 12 in seven innings of two-run ball.
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