Originally written April 21, 2012 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- A.J. Burnett pitched three-hit ball for seven innings in his injury-delayed Pittsburgh debut and the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-0 on Saturday night. Burnett, who missed the first three weeks of the year while recovering from a fractured right orbital bone sustained during a bunting drill in spring training, walked two and struck out seven. Joel Hanrahan worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the ninth for his second save of the season. St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook (2-1) gave up a pair of RBI singles to Pedro Alvarez, walking two and striking out six as his ERA moved from 0.64 to 1.31. Westbrook was good but Burnett was better, throwing 53 of his 76 pitches for strikes and looking like the No. 1 starter the Pirates envisioned when they traded for him in February. Not a bad debut for a player who woke up planning to pitch at Double-A Altoona for one last rehab start but was activated off the 15-day disabled list in the afternoon when starter Kevin Correia was scratched with pain in his side. Though Burnett had struggled while working his way back -- posting a 9.53 ERA in three minor league starts -- manager Clint Hurdle believed a return to the big leagues would rejuvenate Burnett. The 35-year-old certainly looked a little hyped up in his first start in the National League since he pitched for the Marlins in 2005. He walked Rafael Furcal on four pitches, gave up a single to Matt Carpenter and walked Matt Holliday to load the bases with no outs. Just as the boos started -- perhaps reminding him of his three tumultuous seasons in New York -- Burnett settled down, striking out Carlos Beltran and David Freese then getting Yadier Molina to line out to shortstop to end the threat. Burnett was nearly flawless the rest of the way, retiring 12 batters at one point, his only real excitement during his last six innings coming at the plate. Rod Barajas singled with one out in the third, bringing Burnett to the plate in a bunting situation. The crowd roared "no" when Burnett squared up to lay one down, wary Burnett would smack the ball off his face again. Not this time. He walked on four pitches, getting a relieved round of applause as he trotted to first. The Cardinals are off to their best start since 2008 thanks to the National League's best offense. St. Louis came in leading the NL in batting average (.287), home runs (20) and hits (142). Yet the Cardinals mustered little after Burnett settled down. Their best chance to score came in the eighth when they put runners on second and third with one out. Pittsburgh reliever Tony Watson struck out Carpenter and was replaced by Jason Grilli, who got Holliday to whiff and end the threat. Hanrahan, who hadn't pitched since Sunday due to tightness in his hamstring, issued one-out walks to Freese and Molina in the ninth but worked out of it. NOTES: Tests done on Correia revealed no significant damage. Manager Clint Hurdle said Correia could possibly start on Monday against Colorado. ... St. Louis center fielder Skip Schumaker was given the day off after smacking into the wall in the first inning Friday. Manager Mike Matheny said Schumaker was a little banged up but would have been available to pinch hit. ... The teams wrap up the series on Sunday. Kyle Lohse (2-0, 0.89 ERA) will start for St. Louis while Erik Bedard (0-3, 2.65 ERA) gets the nod for Pittsburgh.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rich Gannon blasts Raiders personnel: ‘They’re stealing’

Suspended KeiVarae Russell: Notre Dame becoming ridiculous

Antrel Rolle: Amukamara improved after losing virginity

High school football player dies after suffering head injury

Giants shut out Pirates, advance to NLDS

Cowboys' Spillman accused of rape at team hotel

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Patriots benched WR for mouthing off to coach

Jose Bautista busts up reporter over Twitter

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Larry Donnell benches himself in fantasy, loses because of it

Josh Gordon says NFL’s drug policy is harrassment

Steve Smith: Ron Rivera hid in his office after cutting me

GALLERY: Derek Jeter tops list of athletes with weird phobias

WATCH: LeBron James makes one special Cavs fan’s night

10 most shocking developments so far in 2014 NFL season

WATCH: Matthew McConaughey gives pep talk to Longhorns

ESPN reporter announces she has breast cancer

Byron Scott explains why Kobe wouldn't make a good coach

Hibbert texts Duncan for advice on being like Spurs

Belichick repeats moving 'on to Cincinnati' during presser

Donald Sterling’s wife called the cops on V. Stiviano

WATCH: Mayweather shocked someone doesn’t know who he is

Who is the new face of MLB?

NHL 15 predicts the LA Kings win the Cup again

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!

GALLERY: Athletes and odd phobias

Amukamara better after lost virginity?

H.S. player dies after suffering head injury

Cowboys player accused of rape

Scott: Kobe would not be a good coach

Pats WR benched for mouthing off?

Sammy Watkins calls out EJ Manuel

Donnell benches himself in fantasy and loses

Gordon: Drug policy is harrassment

Who is the new face of baseball?

Steve Smith blasts Panthers coach, GM

What will the A’s look like in 2015?

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.