Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Burnett's Solid Start Wasted by Bullpen Braves 6, Pirates 1

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Burnett's Solid Start Wasted by Bullpen Braves 6, Pirates 1

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- The starter held up his end of the bargain.

The Pirates received the sixth consecutive strong performance from their starting pitcher, but the bullpen could not keep the game close and the offense couldn't match the production of the Atlanta Braves.

Four runs in the seventh inning turned a close game into a 6-1 loss Friday night to the Braves at Turner Field.

Starter A.J. Burnett allowed nine men on base, but limited the damage once they got there. He struck out three in the first, allowed only one run in what could have been a troublesome third and stranded two in the fifth.

"You're always one pitch away from getting out of jams," Burnett said. "That's what you tell yourself out there."

He pitched six innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out eight. He walked three, and two of them scored the Braves' first two runs.

"Walks will kill you every time," Burnett said. "That's what hurt us [Friday night]."

Similar to his first start, where he pitched seven scoreless innings, Burnett (1-1) displayed none of the ineffectiveness that plagued him in his rehabilitation starts. He has now allowed two runs in 13 innings with 15 strikeouts.

Jason Heyward walked in the fourth, then stole second to get into scoring position. Rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky took advantage, singling to score Heyward and make the score 2-1.

Burnett exited after six, though, and the Braves widened the gap against the bullpen. Tony Watson allowed a single and two walks before manager Clint Hurdle replaced him with Evan Meek. Meek allowed hits to Dan Uggla and Chipper Jones that scored four runs and put the Braves ahead, 6-1. Three of the runs were charged to Watson, who worked one-third of an inning, and one went to Meek.

"Going out there with the bases loaded and one out, ideally you want to get a ground ball," Meek said. "It obviously didn't happen. I left the ball up to Uggla and he did what he was supposed to do with it."

Meek's fastball registered at 94-95 mph.

"My stuff is there," he said. "[I had] good cut on the ball. I just got to stay with it."

The Pirates' bullpen entered the game with an ERA of 2.56, the fifth-best mark in Major League Baseball. …

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