Chicago, IL – A.J. Burnett spun 8 1/3 innings to help the Pittsburgh Pirates down the Chicago Cubs, 6-2, in the middle game of a three- game set at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
Burnett (4-6) bounced back from his worst start of the season with arguably his best outing. He surrendered just two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts to pick up his first victory in over a month.
"That was excellent rhythm off the mound," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle about Burnett's performance.
Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin each had two-run home runs while Travis Snider drove in a run for the Pirates, who have won six of eight from the Cubs this season.
Jeff Samardzija (3-7) yielded four runs on eight hits while striking out seven over six frames for the Cubs.
Alfonso Soriano connected on a two-run shot in the ninth to help prevent the Cubs from being held scoreless for the second straight game.
Garrett Jones extended his hitting streak at Wrigley to 10 games with a double into the ivy in left to start the second. Following a Martin ground out, Alvarez connected on a hanging slider for an RBI single to put the first run on the board.
The Bucs were back to work in the third as a Snider single to center scored Starling Marte and Alvarez added a two-run homer to right field in the fourth to make it 4-0.
"They come with a great approach every day," said Samardzija about the Pirates. "They were patient with me and got some pitches to hit."
Chicago had an opportunity to get to Burnett in the sixth after putting runners at second and third with two outs. Soriano ripped a grounder down the third base line, but Alvarez made a spectacular backhanded stab and fired it across the diamond to get the final out of the frame.
Martin ended a 23-game home run drought in the eighth with a two-run slam off Cubs reliever Hector Rondon to make the lead 6-0.
The only mistake Burnett made all game came in the ninth inning when Soriano ended his chance of an 11th career shutout with a two-run homer.
Tony Watson came in for the final two outs.
The Cubs were 0-for-6 with RISP ... Soriano has hit safely in five straight games ... The Cubs have a 6-18 record within their division, the fewest wins for any club within its own division ... Pirates No. 1 prospect Gerrit Cole is scheduled to make his Major League debut Tuesday.