The Pittsburgh Pirates ended its five-game losing streak Thursday night, beating the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 in the teams’ series finale. Andrew McCutchen had three hits and A.J. Burnett allowed two runs over seven innings as everything seemed to come together for this struggling Pirates team. Every Pirates’ starter except for Burnett and Josh Harrison had a hit on the night, and the team generated seven walks. For a team that hasn’t been walking much at all during its losing streak, this is a welcome change.
Neil Walker opened up the scoring for the Pirates, bringing in Gregory Polanco on a single in the first inning, putting the team up 1-0. Walker added another hit, two walks, and two runs on the evening. After a Todd Frazier solo home run tied the game in the fourth inning, the Pirates went ahead 2-1 in the fifth on a Starling Marte sacrifice fly and would not relinquish the lead again. Chris Stewart added two RBIs as the offense finally seemed to come alive.
25-year-old Anthony DeSclafani opposed Burnett on the mound for the Reds and gave up three runs on seven hits and four walks over five innings of work. The Reds did manage nine hits, but the team was 0-6 with runners in scoring position.
What Stood Out
The offense scored more than three runs for the first time in the month of May Thursday night. McCutchen had three hits and raised his average from .188 to .210. This speaks to how early it still is in the 2015 season, and how dramatically a player’s average can jump in just one game. If McCutchen gets hot, he can raise his average to a more respectable territory.
Burnett continued his dominance this season, and hasn’t given up more than two runs in any start so far this year. Burnett has 31 strikeouts to just 12 walks this season, which is great for a pitcher that traditionally has walked many batters over the course of his career.
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Mark Melancon has recovered well from his disastrous outing against the Chicago Cubs, when he gave up three runs in the ninth inning to blow a save and lose the game for the Pirates. Melancon pitched a scoreless ninth inning again Thursday night, and hasn’t given up a run in all but two outings this season. Those two outings were very poor, as he gave up three runs in each performance, but he’s been spotless outside of those two.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (13-15) remain in the Steel City to face the St. Louis Cardinals (21-7), owner of the best record in baseball, Friday night. Francisco Liriano (1-1, 1.95 ERA) will take the ball for the Pirates. In his last start Liriano also faced the Cardinals, giving up only one run over eight innings of work. Michael Wacha (4-0, 1.93 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.