Pittsburgh, PA – Andrew McCutchen's three RBI powered the Pirates to a 3-2 win over the Royals, finishing off a three-game sweep.
McCutchen picked up two of the Pirates' five hits on the day, including an RBI double and two-run home run.
"I haven't been feeling too great the last few days," McCutchen said. "But I figured a couple things out in the cage and was able to make it show forth today."
A.J. Burnett (6-2) picked up the Pirates' sixth win in seven games after allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings on five hits and six strikeouts.
"Good tempo, good rhythm today on a hot day he was really efficient," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was a very, very solid performance all across the board for A.J. today."
Bruce Chen (5-6), coming off seven shutout innings against Minnesota, gave up all three runs in five innings on four hits and a walk in the Royals fourth straight loss.
Alex Gordon delivered the Royals' first hit in the sixth inning and finished 2-for-5 with a run scored, but struck out with two men on in the ninth inning.
The Royals threatened to tie the game in each of the final three innings, stranding six runners, including two in the ninth. After a one-out walk put runners at first and second, Jason Grilli struck out Gordon and Johnny Giavotella to pick up his first save of the year.
"I'm done with making excuses," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "It's a hard game, there's nothing easy about it and they will, they will drive in runs, but we're just not doing it right now."
McCutchen spotted the Pirates a first-inning lead with an RBI double to score Alex Presley, who led off with a single.
The Pirates right fielder struck again in the third with his 11th home run over the left-field fence, giving Pittsburgh a three-run advantage.
"Both times he had two strikes and I'm trying to get a strikeout," Chen said. "We're trying to make him chase the ball. That's what the scouting report says."
After cruising early on, Burnett ran into trouble in the seventh. Brayan Penna stroked a one-out double to right and came around to score when Alicides Escobar delivered a ground-rule double to pull the Royals within two.
The Royals chased Burnett after picking up a pair of one-out singles in the eighth. Tony Watson replaced Burnett and allowed one of the inherited runners to score on a groundout. After walking the next hitter, Hurdle turned to Juan Cruz, who struck out Mitch Maier with the bases loaded to preserve Pittsburgh's lead after walking Pena.
Joel Hanrahan, who pitched four of the last five days, was unavailable so the Pirates turned to Grilli for the save.
The Pirates have won four straight games...The Pirates have the best record in the majors since May 25 (12-3)...Burnett is 4-0 with a 1.28 earned run average at PNC Park this year...The Pirates are 8-1 in games started by an opposing left-handed pitcher...McCutchen has 17 hits in his last 29 at-bats against lefties...The last time the Pirates swept an American League team was June 15-17, 2001 against the Cleveland Indians...The Pirates are 17-10 in one- run games...Burnett has won five straight starts...Eric Hosmer's 11-game hitting streak ended...Chen is 2-3 in seven road starts with a 5.54 ERA...The Royals left nine men on base...Kansas City went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.