Pirates defeat Cubs, 6-2

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CHICAGO -- Two outs away from what would have been the Pirates' first complete game of the season, A.J. Burnett tried to point his pitching coach back to the dugout.

It didn't work. Ray Searage wanted a chance to chat with Burnett, who already had pitched longer than any Pirates starter in a game this season, as he stared down Alfonso Soriano.

"That's the competitor in A.J.," manager Clint Hurdle said.

"You want to finish what you start," Burnett said.

Scouting report

  • Game:

    Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs, 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field, Chicago.

  • TV, Radio:

    Root Sports, KDKA-FM (93.7).

  • Probables:

    LHP Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.45 ERA) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-8, 6.29).

  • Key matchup:

    Jackson vs. Andrew McCutchen, who is 6 for 15 (.400) with two home runs and five RBIs in his career against Jackson.

  • Hidden stat:

    Sixteen of the Pirates' past 21 games have been decided by two runs or fewer.

He didn't get a chance. Soriano homered off Burnett to break up his shutout bid and send him from the game. Burnett settled for the victory, allowing two earned runs on four hits in 81/3 innings as the Pirates beat the Cubs, 6-2, Saturday at Wrigley Field.

He became the first Pirates pitcher this season to last longer than seven innings.

"His rhythm was really nice to watch," Searage said. "It was like poetry in motion. It was beautiful."

Burnett struck out five and walked three, throwing 112 pitches, 77 for strikes. He bested Jeff Samardzija, who beat Burnett in a pitchers' duel on opening day.

"I did all right," Burnett said.

And for the first time in a while, he got some run support that allowed him to earn his fourth victory of the season.

Entering Saturday, the Pirates (37-25) never had more than four hits in a game against Samardzija, who was 4-1 with a career 0.98 ERA against the Pirates in 15 appearances, including four starts. But he didn't look nearly as sharp Saturday, missing his location in the strike zone.

The Pirates made him pay for those mistakes, most notably Pedro Alvarez, who homered and drove in three runs off of Samardzija.

"[Patience] was important," Alvarez said. "If we stick to our approach, it gives us a chance to be able to execute what we want."

Russell Martin hit his 100th career home run, a two-run homer in the eighth, his seventh homer of the season.

Martin said numbers don't mean much to him.

"It's one more than 99," he said. "It's just a number. It looks cool on the back of a player's card, I guess,"

Alvarez hit a home run out of the ballpark and onto Sheffield Avenue beyond the right-field wall, a two-run homer that extended the Pirates' lead to 4-0 in the fourth.

Apparently the unwritten Wrigley Field fan rule about throwing back an opposing team's home runs applies beyond the stadium's walls, too, because a fan from the street grabbed Alvarez's home run ball and hurled it over the bleachers and back onto the playing field.

The home run was Alvarez's team-leading 13th of the season. He also leads the Pirates with 34 RBIs. He finished 2 for 4.

He also made a terrific defensive play in the sixth that kept the Cubs (24-35) off the scoreboard. With runners on second and third and two outs, Soriano ripped a ground ball down the left-field line. Alvarez dived to his left and threw across the diamond to beat Soriano and end the inning.

By the third, the Pirates already had as many hits (5) against Samardzija as they did in his past two starts against them, spanning 15 innings, combined.

By the time Burnett allowed his first hit of the game, Nate Schierholtz's fifth-inning double down the right field line, Samardzija already had given up eight.

The Pirates added to an early lead in the third on back-to-back singles. Starling Marte hit a one-out single and stole second to put himself in scoring position. Travis Snider singled up the middle, scoring Marte from first to make it 2-0.

The Pirates got to Samardzija in the second. Garrett Jones doubled to lead off the inning and moved to third when Martin grounded out to second base. Jones scored when Alvarez smacked a single through the middle of the infield, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.

Soriano almost had an extra-base hit in the second. But Snider snagged his fly ball out of the air with a leaping catch at the ivy, slamming into the hidden brick wall along the way.

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Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1722 and Twitter @msanserino. First Published June 8, 2013 11:15 PM


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