Originally written on Raise the Jolly Roger!  |  Last updated 6/23/12

The Pirates grabbed hold of an early lead on Friday night and hung on to it the rest of the way, defeating the Tigers 4-1 in front of a sellout crowd at PNC Park.

A.J. Burnett won his seventh start in a row–the longest such streak by a Pirate since Dock Ellis. Burnett went six scoreless and allowed just two hits (although he walked three) while striking out four. After A.J. worked around a walk and a stolen base in the first inning, he totally cruised until the sixth. That’s when the top of the Detroit order put two on with no outs and Miguel Cabrera at the plate (and Prince Fielder on deck). Burnett pitched out of it beautifully, getting Cabrera to hit a perfect DP ball and then popping up Fielder to finish his work for the night. Yet another fantastic outing for A.J.

The Bucs got Burnett an early lead with two in the first inning and two more in the second. Alex Presley started things off right away against Doug Fister with a leadoff double, then Neil Walker quickly singled him home. Walker then scored on a Garrett Jones double play ball after Andrew McCutchen moved him over with a single.

In the second, Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas singled and Clint Barmes struck out, setting up a bunt situation for Burnett. A.J. bunted the ball into the field of play instead of into his eye socket, but it still wasn’t a very good bunt. Fister had time to throw out Pedro at third, but chucked it wide and well into foul territory. Alvarez scored and Barajas chugged into third….then shockingly took off for home when Delmon Young had trouble picking up the ball. Young had so much trouble that there wasn’t even a play at the plate, but Barajas dove in headfirst unnecessarily to make it 4-0. Poor defense has held the Tigers back all season, and it was certainly evident on that ugly play.

The four early runs would be enough for Burnett, which was good because the offense mostly shut down for the rest of the game. McCutchen had three hits, but that was about it in terms of notable offensive performances. The bullpen shut things down without a problem, though. Jared Hughes allowed a run in the seventh on a few hits, but Tony Watson cleaned up his mess without allowing any more. Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan cruised through the 8th and 9th to complete the win.

Great start to the series in front of an excellent crowd at PNC on a beautiful Friday night. This was an important game for the Bucs, because the next two shape up to be extremely tough. Still, enjoy this one for now…oh, and the Reds lost so the Pirates are back within one game of first place.

Pirates 4, Tigers 1 / Box / 2012 Record: 37-32 / Next: Saturday, vs. Tigers, 4:05

MVP: Burnett (+.313) / LVP: Jones/Barmes (-.052) / Key play: The errors on AJ’s bunt

©2012 Raise the Jolly Roger. All Rights Reserved.

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