Burnett Goes the Distance
PITTSBURGH – At 36 and the owner of two World Series rings, A.J. Burnett says he no longer cares about personal statistics.
“It’s all about the team,” the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander said. “We’ve got something special really special going on here.”
Burnett, however, admitted it was nice to get a victory Sunday. He hasn’t had too many of them this season.
Burnett scattered eight hits and Russell Martin provided some rare run support for the 15-year veteran with a three-run homer that led the Pirates past the Colorado Rockies 5-1.
Burnett (5-7) struck out nine and walked one in his first complete game of the season and 23rd of his career. He threw 110 pitches, including 83 strikes.
“I just felt good for all nine innings,” Burnett said. “I knew my pitch count was low so I was confident I could get through the ninth. I take pride in finishing what I started. Those guys down there (in the bullpen) need a break.”
The Pirates, who have the best record in the major league at 67-44 following 20 consecutive losing seasons, maintained their 1-game lead in the NL Central on St. Louis.
Burnett has been on World Series winners with the Marlins and Yankees, and he’d ove to play on a third, especially in a city that has embraced him.
“You couldn’t help but hear the fans cheering when I walked out there for the ninth inning,” Burnett said. “They’ve been awesome to me for the two years I’ve been here and they just give you that extra boost of energy.”
Martin’s home run came in the fifth inning and put the Pirates ahead 5-0. Burnett hasn’t gotten much backing this season, and owns a losing record despite a 2.73 ERA.
Martin had missed two of the previous three games with soreness in his left knee. He drove a pitch from Manuel Corpas down the left-field line for his 10th home run of the season.
After the game, Martin wanted to talk about Burnett instead of himself.
“He was outstanding,” Martin said. “He’s been pitching so well and hasn’t had anything to show for it personally a lot of times. I’m really happy he got the win and the complete game.”
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead on an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen in the first inning and Garrett Jones’ sacrifice fly in the third.
In the fifth, McCutchen walked with one out and Pedro Alvarez singled to chase starter Juan Nicasio. Corpas relieved and gave up Martin’s homer.
“I thought Corpas gave us our best chance to get a double play there,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “He puts the ball on the ground consistently with his sinker but hung a breaking ball over the middle of the plate.”
Nicasio (6-6) struggled for a second consecutive start, giving four runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. He allowed a career-high eight runs in his previous start Tuesday at Atlanta.
Nicasio had gone 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in his first three starts after being recalled July 12 from Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he had spent two weeks.
“I threw too many fastballs that were balls or they fouled off,” Nicasio said. “I had a hard time putting the hitters away.”
Jonathan Herrera had three hits for the Rockies, including a run-scoring single in the seventh inning that broke up Burnett’s shutout bid. Michael Cuddyer added two this.
“That’s a good offensive club,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “They can do some things and A.J. was able to work through the middle of the order pretty efficiently. Again, very aggressive, very focused. Ball’s down. He took it to ’em.”