A.J. Burnett turned to look at Carlos Beltran, who was standing on second base in the seventh inning Wednesday night at PNC Park.
"I'm like, 'You can't swing and miss on one more for me?' " Burnett asked.
Most of the St. Louis Cardinals did in a 5-0 Pirates win.
Burnett held the Cardinals hitless through 6 2/3 innings until Beltran doubled to right-center field to disrupt his bid for a no-hitter. Burnett (1-2) pitched seven scoreless innings without a walk and struck out eight.
"By the fourth and fifth, you look up and you notice it," Burnett said. "I had a good hook and I threw some balls in[side] that I don't normally throw in, and I caught them off guard."
In Burnett's third start in 2012, the Cardinals torched him for 12 runs on 12 hits in 2 2/3 innings. He remembered.
Game: Pirates vs. Braves, 7:05 p.m. PNC Park.
TV: Root Sports.
"I remember what they did last year, and that fired me up to go against them [Wednesday night]," he said. "Not to mention they're a pretty good lineup so that always brings it out in you."
Burnett struck out his 2,000th career batter in the second inning when Beltran watched a 93 mph fastball go past him for a called strike three. Neil Walker had the Pirates infielders run to the mound to issue Burnett a quick congratulations. Among active pitchers, only Andy Pettitte, C.C. Sabathia and Roy Halladay have more career strikeouts.
"You've got to have skills, you got to have stuff, you got to have dependability and you've got to go to the post for a long time," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "If you're just a thrower, you don't get 2,000 strikeouts."
Burnett struck out four of the first nine batters he faced. He entered the game tied for the National League lead in strikeouts with 27 and has 35 through 24 innings.
"The breaking ball has been really, really sharp and late, and I think that as much as anything is probably a reason for the strikeouts," Hurdle said.
Burnett remained perfect through five with some help from Travis Snider. Yadier Molina drove a hard liner to right in the fifth, but Snider ran in and made a diving catch.
"Yadi goes the other way pretty well and hit it right at me," Snider said. "A low liner, one of those you want to make sure you get a good break on and beat the ball to the ground, obviously."
Burnett's chance for a perfect game ended in the sixth, when he hit Daniel Descalso in the foot and put the first Cardinals player on base.
One batter before Beltran's double, Burnett flirted with trouble. Matt Holliday bounced a dribbler back to Burnett, who stumbled as he fielded it and barely got Holliday at first.
The Pirates found early success against Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller, a product of St. Louis' stacked minor league system. Miller, 22, made his debut in September, but landed a spot in the rotation out of spring training, and fired out of the gates. He carried a 2-0 record, a 1.46 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings into this start.
Opposing pitchers keep sending Starling Marte fastballs, and he keeps hitting them. Wednesday, he knocked Miller's second pitch off the right-field wall for a leadoff triple in the first. Snider's bloop single scored him and gave the Pirates an early 1-0 lead.
Andrew McCutchen hit a two-out infield single in the sixth and went to second when Descalso's throw bounced into the stands. He scored on Neil Walker's single.
The Pirates scored once more in the seventh and twice in the eighth, when the Cardinals had to use three pitchers to escape the inning. McCutchen singled, and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opted to bring left-hander Randy Choate in to face Garrett Jones.
Gaby Sanchez pinch-hit and doubled, scoring McCutchen. Pedro Alvarez's single, his first hit after an 0-for-11 stretch, scored Sanchez and the Pirates led, 5-0.
Snider was in right field July 31, when Burnett took a no-hitter into the eighth against the Chicago Cubs. Burnett joked that he will get Snider one sometime. He would like to add to the no-hitter he threw in 2001, when he walked nine, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
"I try every time," Burnett said. "I'm not going to lie to you. I take the mound with the mindset of, I'm going to throw one today."mobilehome - pirates
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @BrinkPG. First Published April 18, 2013 4:15 AM