Now that's how you play against an inferior opponent. A.J. Burnett pitched a complete game, as the Pirates defeated Colorado, 5-1, Sunday afternoon, to take the rubber game of a three game weekend series at PNC Park.
It was Burnett's first complete game of 2013, and the Pirates second of the season (Francisco Liriano pitched a complete game in a 6-2 victory at Wrigley Field, in early July.
After Pittsburgh scored two runs in the first three innings on an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen and a sacrifice fly by Garrett Jones, catcher Russell Martin hit a three run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to give Burnett more cushion than he would need.
Burnett, a hard-luck pitcher this season after tallying 16 victories in 2012, improved to 5-7 with the win and lowered his ERA to 2.73.
After taking the first four games of a very memorable five-game home series against the Cardinals during the week, the Pirates fell to St. Louis, 13-0, Thursday night and then dropped the first game against the Rockies, Friday evening.
However, Liriano pitched seven solid innings, Saturday night, in a 5-2 victory, and Burnett did him even better on Sunday afternoon.
The Cardinals took two of three in Cincinnati over the week, so the Pirates maintained the one and a half game lead they built by taking four of five from St. Louis, earlier in the week.
Even though the Pirates are currently in first place in the the National League Central Division, it is worth noting that they also have an 11 game lead for the second Wild Card spot--their largest lead of any postseason importance since they finished the 1991 season 14 games up in the National League East.
The Pirates are off Monday, before opening a three game series against the Marlins, Tuesday night.