Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Grill Masters after Solid Outing by Burnett, Grilli Closes out Sweep in Heat

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Grill Masters after Solid Outing by Burnett, Grilli Closes out Sweep in Heat

Article excerpt

The ball had barely left Jason Grilli's hand before he began to celebrate.

By the time the pitch, a 96-mph fastball that Johnny Giavotella took for a called strike three, hit Rod Barajas' glove, Grilli was well on his way to a triumphant fist pump.

"I put everything into it," he said of the pitch. "I'm not going to be tentative."

The strikeout capped a 3-2 win and series sweep against the Kansas City Royals Sunday at PNC Park. The win, the Pirates' fourth in a row and sixth in their past seven games, moved them five games over .500 at 32-27.

"It is fun," Grilli said. "That's all you can say about it. The Pirates fans here should be having fun and I hope that they're going to enjoy it."

The crowd of 25,752 gave A.J. Burnett a standing ovation after a masterful start. Burnett tipped his cap as he walked to the dugout in the eighth inning, increasing the volume of the applause.

Burnett (6-2) pitched 71/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits, throwing 71 of his 107 pitches for strikes. He did not allow a hit until the sixth, when Alex Gordon singled to right field, and did not allow a baserunner until he walked Eric Hosmer in the fourth.

"The breaking ball was very effective to left-handed hitters," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Pitch efficiency was better."

He worked quickly and easily through the first four innings, needing 44 pitches to do so, before encountering trouble in the fifth. He walked Mitch Maier, then hit Alcides Escobar. Pitching coach Ray Searage visited the mound, and on the next pitch Burnett got Jarrod Dyson to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Burnett has not allowed more than three runs in all but one start this season. Hurdle, who charted Burnett's pitches as the hitting instructor with the Texas Rangers in 2010, cited improved command with all of his pitches as important to his success.

"It's just the next-pitch mentality," Burnett said. "I've been more focused on that this year than I have in a couple years. In between innings, you tell yourself that."

The Royals didn't score off Burnett until the seventh. He allowed a double to Brayan Pena, then another to Escobar that scored Pena and cut the Pirates' lead to 3-1. …

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