Pirates take aim at sweep of Padres

The Pittsburgh Pirates target a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres Wednesday at Petco Park.

The Pirates have held the Padres to a run in each of the first two portions of this set and recorded an 8-1 victory on Tuesday. Neil Walker homered, Josh Harrison had three RBI and Andrew McCutchen drove in a pair of runs for the Pirates, winners in four of seven games. McCutchen has eight RBI over his last nine contests.

Pittsburgh pushed its NL Central lead to two games over St. Louis after the Cardinals lost to Milwaukee on Tuesday.

A.J. Burnett bounced back from a rough slew of starts and delivered seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts and one walk.

"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."

Pirates young starter Gerrit Cole tries to follow in Burnett's footsteps when he takes the mound Wednesday. Cole ended a three-start winless drought (0-2) his last time out in a 6-2 win over Arizona, as he limited the Diamondbacks to a pair of runs in six innings.

Cole is 6-5 in 12 starts with a 3.88 ERA and has never faced San Diego.

The Padres have lost two straight, five of seven and 10 of their last 14 games. In Tuesday's seven-run loss, starter Tyson Ross was reached for five runs, four earned, in 6 1/3 innings to suffer the defeat.

Jedd Gyorko homered to supply the offense for San Diego, which dropped to 2-4 on a 10-game homestand. The Padres mustered just four hits off Burnett and six total on the night.

"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."

Ian Kennedy will make his fourth start for San Diego since coming over via trade with Arizona and is 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA in the first three outings. Kennedy lost to the New York Mets on Friday and gave up five run in 4 2/3 innings of a 5-2 setback.

Kennedy, who was 3-8 in 21 starts for the D'backs, has faced Pittsburgh four times (all starts) in his career, going 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA.

The Padres have still won 18 of their past 23 meetings with the Pirates and won all three encounters at home in this series last year.