Bucs Bats Stay Alive in Victory Over Reds

Scoring runs hasn’t been the Pittsburgh Pirates’ strong point this season.

The team ranks 30th in Major League Baseball  in runs scored (180), with 12 less than the 29th place San Diego Padres.

So when I point out that the Pirates have scored 23 runs over their last four games (5.75 runs/game), don’t compare that with, say, the Texas Rangers, who score upwards of 5.5 runs per game anyway.

After last night’s 8-4 victory over the Reds in Cincinnati, the Pirates are halfway to winning their fourth consecutive series, thanks partially to their offense.

Of course, the pitching has been phenomenal as usual.

The Pirates own the third-ranked pitching staff in Major League Baseball and are now 20-1 when leading after six innings, due to a strong bullpen and an even stronger closer in Joel Hanrahan.

Last night, A.J. Burnett started the game for Pittsburgh. The righty lasted five innings, giving up five hits and three runs while striking out eight.

Even on a night when Burnett’s stuff was lacking and his control wasn’t entirely there (four walks), he chugged along and left with his team in the lead. Burnett’s 3.76 ERA on the year doesn’t speak to how well he’s pitched.

Remove that terrible outing on May 2 against the St. Louis Cardinals where Burnett allowed 12 runs in 2.2 IP and you have Major League Baseball’s leader in earned run average.

Even with that outing, Burnett has been better than any Yankee pitcher aside from C.C. Sabathia.

Not a bad haul for two non-prospects and some cash. Nice move, Neal.

Offensively, every starting fielder for the Pirates aside from Rod Barajas picked up at least one hit.

Some unexpected home runs from Neil Walker, Alex Presley and Casey McGehee‘s first as a Pirate propelled the offense and took some pressure off Burnett, who picked a good day to not quite have his pitches working for him.

Presley also added a triple in his first game since being recalled from AAA, and Clint Barmes turned in a three-hit performance.

The Pirates always had a pretty solid grip on the game once they took the lead with a four-run third inning, even when Juan Cruz loaded the bases and failed to record an out in the ninth inning. With runners on second and third and the tying run in the on-deck circle – thus creating a save situation – Hanrahan struck out three straight batters with three nasty sliders.

Pirates fans didn’t even sweat.

The win left the Pirates two games above .500 and just two games out of the NL Central lead.

The top two teams in the division will meet again tonight as Brad Lincoln takes the mound against Johnny Cueto at 7:10 PM.

Follow Troy on Twitter @TroyPfaff for more Pittsburgh Pirates content

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