A.J. Burnett has been unstoppable in Pittsburgh this year, and tonight he'll get an opportunity to pitch against a team he threw a no- hitter against more than 10 years ago.
Something has to give tonight in the Steel City, a place the Padres have won 10 times in a row. Burnett has gone 7-0 with a 1.99 ERA in 10 starts at PNC Park this season.
The 35-year-old right-hander is just 1-4 with a 4.54 ERA in five career starts versus the Padres. Burnett has lost his last two starts against the Padres since tossing a no-hitter with the Marlins in San Diego on May 12, 2001, but he hasn't faced the Padres since May 15, 2005.
Burnett has been pitching incredibly this season and has won 13 of his last 14 decisions. He tossed a one-hit shutout at Wrigley Field on July 31 and then came within an out of going the distance against the Reds on Sunday. He's got a four-game winning streak intact.
Facing a 3 1/2-game deficit to first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central, the Pirates enter tonight's contest on the heels of a 9-8 loss on Friday.
San Diego's victory string at PNC Park is the longest active winning streak for any time over an opponent at their home ballpark. The Padres are 27-9 all-time at PNC Park and have never lost consecutive games in the stadium. Additionally, the Padres have won 13 of the last 16 overall against the Bucs.
Chase Headley hit two homers, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the seventh inning in the opener of this three-game series last night.
"This is probably my favorite place to play," Headley said. "This stadium is absolutely beautiful. I have a lot of family in the area, so it's always fun to see them. It's just a tremendous ballpark and I've seen the ball well here."
The Pirates used a five-run fourth inning to grab a 7-1 lead, but the Padres responded with six runs in the fifth, tying the game on Headley's three-run blast to right.
Pittsburgh went ahead again in the sixth when Rod Barajas singled home Garrett Jones, but Tony Watson (5-2) failed to hold the lead, issuing a two-out walk to Everth Cabrera before Headley sent his 17th homer of the season over the fence in left field.
Brad Brach (1-2) allowed one run over two innings of relief to earn the win for the Padres, who have won five straight games -- one short of a season- high.
Dale Thayer, Luke Gregerson and Huston Street combined to record the final nine outs in order. Street increased his scoreless innings streak to 21 1/3 frames, but appeared to injure his leg while attempting to cover first base on the final out of the game.
Travis Snider hit a three-run homer and Jones had a solo blast for the Bucs.
"There's not many seasons that happen when you don't have a game like this or two," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "You find a way to claw back because that speaks to the character of your club. It speaks to the mental toughness of your club. That's what we'll do."
Jason Marquis gets the ball tonight for the Padres in his 20th start of the season. The righty has won four of his last five starts and is coming off a triumph over the Mets on Sunday.
Marquis is 12-7 all-time when facing the Pirates. Those 12 career victories are his most against any team faced in his career. Additionally, he has earned the win in seven of his last 10 starts against the Pirates dating back to the beginning of the 2008 season.