PITTSBURGH (AP) — Lastings Milledge drove in four runs, Garrett Jones added three RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates finally won a one-sided game, beating the Cubs 11-1 Thursday night for their first sweep of their NL Central rival in nearly four years.
Brian Burres (2-1), roughed up in three consecutive appearances before pitching 5 1-3 scoreless innings in a spot start April 29 against Los Angeles, allowed three hits over seven shutout innings to win his second in a row. Before that, he hadn't won in nearly two seasons.
The Pirates have fallen into a pattern of winning close games but losing lots of blowouts; they've lost 11 times by six runs or more and their minus-86 run differential through 27 games was easily the worst in either the NL or AL. However, they are 6-1 in one-run games and 10-1 when scoring four runs or more.
For a change, they put this one away early — and easily — following a two-hour pregame meeting with a communications coach designed to build their social skills and boost their image. A five-run first inning against Cubs starter Randy Wells (3-1) no doubt accomplished that.
The Pirates hadn't won by more than four runs since beating the Dodgers 11-5 on opening day April 5.
Wells (3-1) didn't walk any in his previous two starts, only to walk Akinori Iwamura and Andy LaRoche in succession. Andrew McCutchen and Jones followed with RBI singles and Ryan Doumit doubled in a run. Milledge, who came in with six RBIs in 93 at-bats, finished it off with a two-run double.
Wells lasted at least six innings in each of his first five starts, but yielded seven runs, six earned, in two innings to halt his four-game winning streak. Jones had a two-run double in the second, and Milledge added another against reliever Jeff Gray during a four-run fourth inning in which he mistakenly thought he had homered.
As fireworks went off prematurely, Milledge believed his drive cleared the left-field wall, but the ball instead deflected off the base of the wall. Milledge was tagged out as he jogged between second and third — a potentially costly error in a close game, but a harmless one in a game in which the Cubs made three errors.
Burres, a former Orioles reliever, gave the Pirates something they've rarely had all season — successive strong starts by the same pitcher. The left-hander struck out four and walked three, lowering an ERA that was 9.31 before the Dodgers start to 4.09.
NOTES: The Pirates expect RH Ross Ohlendorf (back) to come off the disabled list and start Monday against Cincinnati. ... Pittsburgh has swept two of its last three series at home, but was outscored 36-1 while losing three to the Brewers in the other. ... Pittsburgh has scored in the first inning in seven of its last eight games. ... The Cubs followed up a three-game weekend sweep of Arizona by being swept by Pittsburgh for the first time since Aug. 28-30, 2006.