Pirates win 5-4, split series with Phillies
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PHILADELPHIA -- Batter after batter reached base in the first inning for the Pirates, and five of them scored. Those were the only runs they got, but that was all they needed.
The Philadelphia Phillies closed the gap in the late innings, but fell short. The Pirates' 5-4 win at Citizens Bank Park gave them a series split with the Phillies at two games apiece and sent them to St. Louis with a 40-35 record.
The damage against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick was minor at first, then progressed into critical stages. Drew Sutton reached on an infield single and Neil Walker walked. After Sutton retired Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones singled, scoring Sutton.
Kendrick left a 1-2 pitch over the plate to Casey McGehee, who drove it to left-center field for his fifth home run of the year. Pedro Alvarez followed by pulling a changeup to right field for his 14th of the year, and the Pirates led, 5-0.
The Pirates have now homered in six consecutive games.
Erik Kratz got two back in the second. He hit A.J. Burnett's 0-2 fastball over the high wall in center field, scoring Ty Wigginton and cutting the Pirates' lead to 5-2.
Kendrick allowed a single in the second inning, then did not allow a hit again until the seventh. At one point he retired 11 batters in a row. He pitched seven innings and allowed five runs on six hits, walking three and striking out six.
Burnett (9-2) pitched 62/3 innings and allowed three runs on six hits. He forced the Phillies to ground out 11 times, compared to one fly-ball out. He has excelled in that area this season: Entering his start Thursday, Burnett's 56.8 percent ground ball rate ranked fifth among qualified pitchers in the major leagues.
Burnett won his eighth consecutive start, tying Dock Ellis' streak in 1974.
Burnett struck out the first two batters of the seventh, but left after issuing a two-out walk to Jimmy Rollins. Juan Cruz walked a batter, but got Shane Victorino to fly out and end the inning.
Hunter Pence lined a home run to left field off Jason Grilli in the eighth, cutting the Pirates' lead to 5-4. Grilli hit Placido Polanco with the next pitch and later allowed an infield single to Mike Fontenot. That brought pinch-hitters Jim Thome and Carlos Ruiz to the plate with two men on.
Thome hammered a long strike that drifted to the side of the right-field foul pole, but eventually struck out. Ruiz, the National League batting leader entering the game, had owned Pirates pitchers this series, but he popped out in foul territory to end the inning. McGehee made the catch leaning over the railing down the right-field line.
Bill Brink: firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @BrinkPG.
First Published June 28, 2012 4:30 pm