Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander A.J. Burnett has a tough act to follow and hasn't been his best lately. The Pirates hope Burnett can bounce back Tuesday in the continuation of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.
Burnett will follow Francisco Liriano's brilliant performance from Monday's 3-1 win in which the lefty struck out 13 batters over seven shutout innings and scattered four hits. Burnett has allowed eight hits in each of his last three starts and 10 earned runs in the previous two.
The Pirates have lost two straight and four of Burnett's last six starts and he didn't receive a decision in Thursday's 6-5 loss at St. Louis. Burnett yielded five runs in 4 1/3 innings and is 5-8 with a 3.18 earned run average in 22 starts. He is 2-5 in 11 road outings this season and hasn't pitched well in his career against the Padres, going 1-5 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts.
Behind Liriano and some offensive help, Pittsburgh won for just the third time in the last 10 games and maintained its one-game lead over the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. Pedro Alvarez hit his 31st home run of the season and Andrew McCutchen added two hits and a run scored to aid Liriano.
"I didn't feel 100 percent but I thought I was able to make the most of my stuff," said Liriano, who became the first Pirates pitcher to strike out 12 or more batters in a single game since Kip Wells struck out 12 Phillies on July 5, 2005. "Really didn't have to battle too much out there and that helped."
The Pirates will also visit San Francisco on this western jaunt.
San Diego will resume its 10-game homestand and lost for the ninth time in 13 tries with Monday's defeat.
Nick Hundley drove in the Padres' only run and Will Venable was cooled at the plate in an 0-for-4 showing. Venable, the NL's Player of the Week, was riding a team-best 15-game hitting streak and batted .377 during the run.
Andrew Cashner tossed a solid game as he gave up just three runs -- one earned -- and five hits with a pair of walks over seven innings to take the loss.
"He threw the ball well tonight," Padres manager Bud Black said about Cashner. "He had a bunch of ground balls tonight and only gave up five hits. He had some really easy innings tonight and I thought he was on top of his game."
San Diego is 2-3 on the homestand and hopes Tyson Ross can even this set when he takes the mound Tuesday. Ross is 3-1 in his last four decisions and did not factor in the outcome of Thursday's 4-1 loss to the New York Mets. He pitched well and was reached for a run in seven innings with eight K's and no walks.
Ross has allowed only two runs in his last two starts and owns a 3-5 record in 27 games (8 starts) with a 2.62 ERA this season. The right-hander has not faced the Pirates in his career and that could help the hosts.
The Padres have still won 18 of their past 22 meetings with the Pirates and won all three encounters at home in this series last year.