Right-hander A.J. Burnett looked sharp in his first two starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates allowing just two runs over 13.0 innings while striking out 15. But on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, the Cardinals pounded out 12 runs off Burnett and chased him after just 2.2 innings in the 12-3 loss.
Back-to-back base knocks into right field by Rafael Furcal and Jon Jay started the first inning for the Cardinals. Matt Holliday drove in his 16th run of the season with a single into left for the third straight hit. Outfielder Carlos Beltran followed by taking a first-pitch changeup for a three-run homer to right field. The next batter reached first base on a throwing error by third baseman Pedro Alvarez, his fifth of the season. The throw to Garrett Jones pulled his leg off the bag allowing David Freese to be safe. Yadier Molina picked up a hit before Burnett was able to get his first out of the inning — a strikeout looking to Matt Carpenter. Burnett was able to escape the inning after nine men came to the plate by picking up his second straight whiff and a ground out.
The Cardinals, however, didn’t stop after a four-run first. Furcal picked up his second straight hit off Burnett to start the second inning. Burnett hit Jay with a pitch to put runners on first and second and no outs. Holliday picked up his second RBI on the night with a single up the hole on the left side.
Both catcher Rod Barajas and Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle were ejected after Holliday’s RBI knock. Over the first two innings, both had issues with the home plate umpire Angel Campos on strike calls at the plate. It marked Hurdle’s first ejection of the season and sixth since becoming the Pirates skipper. Barajas became the first player to get tossed in 2012.
After Michael McKenry replaced Barajas at the plate, Burnett gave up the third hit of the inning to plate a second run. Holliday scored after Freese hit into a double play. The inning ended after Burnett got Molina to line out to first base.
For the third straight inning, Burnett gave up a leadoff single to start the frame. Daniel Descalso squared up a RBI triple into the gap in right center field for the eighth run allowed. Furcal drove in a run with a sac fly to center field. Carlos Beltran went deep — his second long ball off Burnett of the game — a three-run shot and picked up seven RBI off the right-hander.
Jeff Banister, who took over as skipper when Hurdle got ejected, pulled Burnett after the home run. Right-hander Brad Lincoln walked his first batter before getting a ground out to end the third frame.
Overall, Burnett allowed 12 runs on 12 hits over 2.2 innings. He walked one and struck out two while throwing 72 pitches, 41 strikes. Burnett entered game action with a 1.38 ERA, which jumped to 8.04 after the rough outing. Burnett became the first Pirates starter to allow 12 runs in a game since Glenn Spencer did so against the Chicago Cubs on April 24, 1932.
The Pirates were only able to plate two runs off the Cardinals righty starter Lance Lynn. The first run came on a RBI double to left center field by Clint Barmes in the 2nd. Pedro Alvarez scored after hitting an infield single. Infielder Josh Harrison picked up a pinch-hit RBI single to left field to score Alvarez in the seventh. Lynn held the Bucs to just three hits over 6.2 innings while whiffing six.
Harrison drove in a run off reliever Mitchell Boggs in the ninth inning –his second RBI of the game. Alvarez scored on the line drive single to left by Harrison after picking up his second hit of the night.
Following Burnett in relief, the Bucco bullpen combined to pitch 5.1 shutout innings with five whiffs in the 12-3 loss.
- Relief — Brad Lincoln: 2.1 IP, 3H, BB, 2K; Chris Resop: 1.0 IP, K; Juan Cruz: 1.0 IP, H, BB, K; Jason Grilli: 1.0 IP, H, 2BB, K
- Brad Lincoln has been scored upon just once in his five appearances out of the bullpen (10.1 innings). He has allowed just six hits in 35 at bats (.171 average) this year in relief while posting an 0.87 ERA.
- Pedro Alvarez went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and a walk in the game. He entered game action having gone deep in back-to-back games has had eight extra base hits since last Wednesday, which is the most in the Majors in that time period.
- Jose Tabata snapped his seven game hit streak after going 0-for-4 at the plate. Tabata hit at a .367 clip (11-for-30) during the streak.