Phils, Burnett hope to salvage finale in Pittsburgh

( - Before joining the Phillies this year, A.J. Burnett pitched two seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates and last season helped then end a 21-year playoff drought.

Now, he's on the other side, pitching for team in the basement of the NL East. Burnett toes the rubber this afternoon as Philadelphia hopes to avoid a three- game sweep at PNC Park.

Despite striking out 10 batters Tuesday at Miami, Burnett didn't get a decision after allowing six hits and four runs -- three earned -- in six innings. In three career games against the Pirates, Burnett is 1-1 with a 2.37 ERA.

Jeff Locke pitched eight innings Tuesday against the Diamondbacks, but was in line for the loss after allowing two runs. Pittsburgh, though, scored three times in the ninth to pull out a 3-2 win, as Locke didn't get a decision. He's 1-0 over his last four starts.

Locke has won both of his career starts against the Phillies and has pitched to a 1.54 ERA, giving up two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings.

The last time the Pirates swept a series in the Steel City from the Phillies was April 19-21, 2002. A win Sunday would give the Pirates their first series sweep of 2014 against any opponent.

"We know what A.J. is going to do and what he's going to try and do," Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen said. "We're going to come out and try and have an opportunity to get another sweep. Hopefully we can go through this one and be able to finally do it."

Yesterday, Edinson Volquez tossed seven solid innings and McCutchen added a two-run homer, leading the Pirates to a 3-2 win. Volquez (7-6) walked four but fanned five while allowing one run on four hits in his successful 106-pitch outing, which he aided by knocking in a run for the Pirates, winners of five of their last six.

Mark Melancon gave up a home run to Marlon Byrd in the ninth, but closed out the game to register his 16th save.

Cody Asche also went deep for the Phillies, while David Buchanan (4-5) surrendered six hits and three runs over six full frames in defeat.

Philadelphia fell to 37-50, tying the 2012 club for the worst record at this point in the season since the 1997 Phils were 25-62. They have lost eight of their last nine games.

"When you're working every day, you know it's there, regardless if it's there or not," Byrd said of the team's desire and professionalism. "It's working hard every single day, coming in here, preparing for a game, no matter who's on the mound, who's in the bullpen, and preparing for whatever team you're playing and having an approach."