Posted July 08, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs, Neil Walker homered among his five hits and the Pittsburgh Pirates entered the All-Star break in sole possession of first place following a 13-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. The long-woeful Pirates have won six of seven and 10 of 12, and no team in the majors has a better record since May 12 than Pittsburgh's 34-19. The Pirates (48-37) are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in first place at the break for the first time since 1997. A.J. Burnett pitched effectively into the seventh to win his ninth consecutive decision, and Casey McGehee went 3 for 4 with two RBIs for Pittsburgh. The Giants' Tim Lincecum failed to get out of the fourth inning for the second consecutive start, getting charged with six runs on seven hits. The two-time Cy Young Award winner enters the break with a 6.42 ERA that is worst in the majors among qualifying starters. Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer for San Francisco, which has lost five of six and seven of nine. The Pirates have gone 11-1-1 in their past 13 series and have won seven consecutive series at PNC Park. Beginning with inducing Sandoval into popping out with two on and two out in the first, Burnett (10-2) retired 13 consecutive Giants batters. He was lifted after Sandoval hit his eighth homer with Buster Posey aboard in the seventh. Burnett was charged with two runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings. Burnett improved to 6-0 at home and became the second Pirates pitcher since 1993 to win 10 games prior to the All-star break. Pittsburgh has won each of his past 12 outings. Burnett's winning streak is a career-best. McCutchen hit a pair of two-run homers that immediately followed hits by Walker - one to open the scoring in the first and another to make it 12-2 in the seventh. McCutchen, an All-Star reserve who will take part in the home run derby Monday, enters the break on a 20-for-37 (.540) tear. All of his team-high 18 home runs have come in the past two months - an NL-high 12 have come with runners on base. McCutchen has 23 RBIs in his past 19 games. Walker extended his hitting streak to 12 games - tying a team season high - with a homer, double and three singles. It was the first five-hit game for a Pirates player since Walker did it July 20, 2010. Walker is hitting .489 (23-for-47) during his streak. Walker hit his sixth home run with nobody on in the third, and the Pirates chased Lincecum (3-10) with a three-run fourth. Burnett's soft liner through the middle with the bases loaded scored McGehee. It was the pitcher's 10th career RBI and first since Aug. 9, 2005, while with Florida. Burnett was the final batter Lincecum would face - although runs that scored via a Drew Sutton sacrifice fly and Walker single would be charged to him. Lincecum has allowed 69 earned runs - most in the majors and three more than his total from all of last season. He has allowed 47 earned runs in 47 innings on the road this season. About the only negative for the Pirates on Sunday was McGehee pulling up lame with a mild left groin strain after swatting a two-run ''single'' deep into the notch in left-center during the sixth. Pittsburgh entered the day a game up on the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. Only Washington has a better record among NL teams. Notes: The Giants had three errors. ... The Pirates' 29-14 home record is the best in the majors. They have won nine of 11 and 14 of 17 at PNC Park. ... Pittsburgh will be on the road for 16 of its first 22 after the break, beginning with three in Milwaukee Friday-Sunday. Manager Clint Hurdle set the order of his rotation to start the unofficial second half: RHP James McDonald, RHP Kevin Correia, Burnett, RHP Jeff Karstens and LHP Erik Bedard. ... San Francisco hosts Houston for a three-game series coming out of the break beginning Friday. The Giants took two of three from the Astros at home June 12-14.
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