Pirates 5, Marlins 1

Associated Press  |  Last updated July 21, 2012
A.J. Burnett remained undefeated at home by pitching 7 2-3 strong innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates matched a season high with their fourth consecutive win, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1 on Saturday night. Burnett (11-3) allowed one run and eight hits. A homer by Justin Ruggiano was his only blemish as he improved to 7-0 at home this season and Pittsburgh (53-40) moved 13 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1992 season. The Pirates entered the day a half-game behind the Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. Garrett Jones had two RBIs and Alex Presley scored two runs for the Pirates, who have the majors' best home record at 31-14. Pittsburgh has won 20 of its past 24 at home and 15 of its past 20 overall. The Marlins have lost four straight. The Pirates went ahead during a four-run fourth in which they did not record a hit - the first time in almost 14 years a major league team did that. The announced crowd of 39,411 was the 11th sellout of the season in a town that hasn't experienced a winning baseball season in 20 years. As if the idea of the Pirates tied for the third-most wins in baseball in late July wasn't extraordinary enough, the fifth-largest crowd in PNC Park history witnessed one of the most bizarre innings in the majors this season. Miami starter Carlos Zambrano imploded in the fourth, when Pittsburgh scored three times via bases-loaded walks and on an error. Oddly, it was not until the ninth man of the inning came to the plate before an official at-bat was recorded. The most recent time a team scored four runs in one inning without a hit was the Oakland Athletics on Sept 23, 1998 against Seattle, according to STATS, LLC. Also according to STATS, LLC, only once in the past 28 years has an inning began with each of the first eight men to come to the plate failing to record an official at-bat: St. Louis did it against Philadelphia on June 26, 1991. In the fourth, Zambrano walked three, hit two batters and committed a throwing error on a sacrifice attempt by Burnett. Pittsburgh's Rod Barajas scored on that play, Clint Barmes came home on a sacrifice fly by Neil Walker and Burnett was forced in when Jones walked. Chad Gaudin continued the trend when he was called in to relieve Zambrano, walking Casey McGehee to force Presley home and give the Pirates a 4-1 lead. Zambrano (5-8) was charged with five runs (four earned), three hits and six walks with two strikeouts. He has lost five of his past six decisions and has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his past eight outings after doing so in four of his first 11 starts. Zambrano entered the game 8-1 at PNC Park, his best winning percentage at any ballpark and the best by any opposing pitcher there with a minimum of 14 starts. Burnett improved to 8-1 in 12 career starts at PNC Park. He allowed only four runners to advance past first base. Brad Lincoln got four outs to earn his first save as a professional. Ruggiano's homer leading off the second was his seventh of the season. Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante each had two hits for the Marlins, whose only hit with a runner in scoring position was Lee's infield single. Miami entered on a 1-for-23 slide in such situations. Notes: SS Hanley Ramirez was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game due to an infected right hand. Manager Ozzie Guillen said Ramirez is expected to not be in the lineup for a few more days. Ramirez, whose infection was the result of missing a dosage of prescribed antibiotics, entered the game as a pinch-runner Friday. ... On June 26, 1991, the Cardinals walked six times and hit two sacrifice flies to begin the bottom of the first against Phillies. ... According to STATS, LLC., the previous time any team had eight consecutive plate appearances without an at-bat was Aug. 13, 2008, by the Astros in the sixth inning against the Giants. ... Sunday's pitching matchup is Miami RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.95 ERA) against Pittsburgh RHP Jeff Karstens (2-2, 4.15)
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