Published August 01, 2012
| Sports Network
Streaking righty Jeff Karstens gets starting assignment No. 10 for the season today when the Pittsburgh Pirates wrap up a three-game series with the Chicago Cubs with the rubber match at Wrigley Field.
Plagued by injury throughout the early season, Karstens made three starts in April before going on the shelf for two months prior to a return on June 25.
He was 0-2 in the initial four starts, then broke through for his first win after allowing two runs in seven innings in a 7-3 defeat of the St. Louis Cardinals on June 30.
Including that start, he's 3-0 in his last five while allowing two runs or less three times and pitching at least seven innings four times.
He's 4-3 in nine lifetime appearances against the Cubs with a 3.83 earned run average in 40 innings, while allowing a .287 opposition batting average.
The Pirates evened the series on Tuesday when A.J. Burnett took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and Neil Walker belted a grand slam and knocked in all five of Pittsburgh's runs in a 5-0 win.
The Pirates trail first-place Cincinnati - which won, 7-6, over San Diego - by three games in the National League's Central Division.
Burnett, who was bidding to become the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field since 1972, gave up a line single to right from pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas with two outs in the eighth.
The shutout was his first of the year and 10th of his career.
Cardenas' hit, which came on a 3-2 pitch, occurred just after a 64 mph knuckle curve nearly painted the outside corner. After Cardenas' hit, Burnett turned and voiced his displeasure with home plate umpire Jeff Nelson.
"(Manager Clint Hurdle) got a good term for it, he calls it 'no-no going to - uh-oh'. I didn't want to go to uh-oh," Burnett said. "I was upset, but I'm able to regroup and make a pitch. I over-reacted because I was in the spur of the moment, but I was able to calm down and finish what I started."
Burnett (13-3), who has won 12 of his last 13 decisions, notched his first shutout since June 27, 2006, when He was pitching for Toronto against Washington.
"A lot of my success this year has come because of the guys in this clubhouse," Burnett said. "They accepted me from the get-go, before I even took the mound as a Pirate. The fans back home are amazing too, they go nuts."
On Tuesday, Burnett walked two batters and had eight strikeouts, capping a day of trades for the Bucs, winners in five of their last seven games.
They acquired first baseman Gaby Sanchez and pitcher Kyle Kaminska from the Miami Marlins in exchange for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and the club's 2013 competitive balance draft pick. The Pirates also shipped Casey McGehee and cash to the Yankees in exchange for veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
The Cubs, who had a three-game winning streak broken, were also busy at Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline, as they dealt catcher Geovany Soto and pitcher Ryan Dempster to Texas.
Dempster was supposed to start Tuesday, but Casey Coleman (0-2) was pressed into duty and allowed seven hits and four runs through 4 2/3 frames.
The Pirates haven't thrown a no-hitter since July 12, 1997 when Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon tossed a combined one over 10 innings against Houston.
Karstens is opposed by Chicago's Travis Wood, who's not won in three starts since the end of a four-start win streak.
The lefty defeated the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets (twice) and Houston between June 19 and July 6, but is 0-3 since returning from the All-Star break.
He was roughed up for eight runs in five innings in a 9-6 loss to St. Louis in his most recent start on July 27 and has allowed 23 runs in 15 2/3 innings in the three starts overall.
Wood, who was acquired by the Cubs from Cincinnati in exchange for reliever Sean Marshall in the offseason, is 2-2 in four career meetings wit the Pirates.
He's 2-3 this season in seven starts at Wrigley Field.
The Pirates won four of the initial six games between the teams in 2012, including a three-game sweep in May in Pittsburgh. The Cubs won two of three in Pittsburgh between July 23-25.
The Cubs last won the season series in 2009.