San Diego, CA – A.J. Burnett pitched seven innings of one-run ball and the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the San Diego Padres, 8-1, in the middle test of a three-game series.
Burnett (6-8) allowed four hits, including a home run by Jedd Gyorko, while fanning seven and walking one. His performance came off two straight rough outings in which he gave up 10 earned runs on 16 hits over 10 innings.
"I had guys diving left and right behind me today and swinging the bat," Burnett said. "It's just fun to see everyone in this room contribute. That's what's going on right now. I'm glad I was a part of it tonight."
Josh Harrison had three RBI while Andrew McCutchen drove in two runs for the Pirates, who came into this series 2-7 in a nine-game span, but are on the verge of sweeping the set. They expanded their lead in the NL Central to two games over St. Louis.
Padres starter Tyson Ross (3-6) gave up five runs -- four earned -- on six hits and a pair of walks over 6 1/3 innings.
San Diego has lost 10 of its last 14 games.
"We are scuffling swinging the bats, but Burnett, being a veteran pitcher, he had some fastballs with movement tonight to both sides of the plate," Padres manager Bud Black said. "With the breaking ball, it was a good combination."
Pirates second baseman Neil Walker got things started with a one out-homer in the first inning. After McCutchen grounded out, Pedro Alvarez reached first after Gyorko's throw to first was off the mark, and Russell Martin ripped an RBI double to right to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Two innings later, Walker was hit by a pitch and scored on Alvarez's triple to left center.
Gyorko made up for his blunder with a home run to start the fourth, but that would be it for the Padres.
Meanwhile, the Pirates scored five runs in the seventh. Jordy Mercer singled to lead off and Burnett walked. After Jose Tabata's sacrifice bunt advanced the runners, Ross was replaced by Dale Thayer.
Walker grounded towards second and Mercer was thrown out at the plate. However, McCutchen tripled to right center, plating Burnett and Walker.
Colt Hynes then came out in relief, but he walked Alvarez and Martin to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Harrison then cleared the bases with a triple to right center, making it an 8-1 game.
The Pirates are 32-29 on the road, one of four National League teams with a winning road record (Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers) ... McCutchen has eight RBI over his last nine games ... Pittsburgh finished 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position ... Gyorko has five home runs and six RBI in his last nine games ... Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole is scheduled to face San Diego's Ian Kennedy in Wednesday's series finale.