Phillies fall to Pirates 6-2, swept for 8th time
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Falling behind the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning of the first two games of the weekend series led to losses for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Scoring in the opening frame didn’t help the sliding Phillies, either.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke got the best of his mentor A.J. Burnett on Sunday as Pittsburgh topped the Phillies 6-2 on Sunday. That finished the Pirates’ first series sweep of the season and completed the eighth sweep against Philadelphia.
The Phillies struck first in the finale of the three-game series when Marlon Byrd drove Jimmy Rollins home from second base after he reached on a throwing error by Pedro Alvarez.
But Pittsburgh answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, and Philadelphia never led again.
“It was a tough first inning,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “Getting two outs with no one on, then giving up three hits in a row.”
Pittsburgh’s pitching staff held the Phillies to six runs and 12 hits in the series, in which Philadelphia batted .135.
“I feel like we have a better offensive team than this but it hasn’t played out over the course of the season,” second baseman Chase Utley said. “We have some and too many not-so-good games.”
Philadelphia is last in the NL East, 12 games behind first-place Atlanta.
Locke gave up just three hits and a walk in eight innings as he outdueled Burnett, his former neighbor in the Pittsburgh clubhouse.
“It didn’t even feel like we were playing a Major League Baseball game,” Locke said. “We spoke really briefly before we got in the bullpen, just told each other to have fun today, go get `em. Pound down.”
Pittsburgh had failed to finish a sweep in eight previous tries this season.
“I didn’t know we didn’t have a sweep,” Locke said. “It feels good, especially a team like those guys over there. Especially when (Marlon) Byrd and A.J. come back again.”
The Pirates (47-41) moved a season-high six games over .500, while the Phillies (37-51) fell a season-high 14 games below .500.
Locke (2-1) gave up two runs – one earned – and struck out four. He has made six straight quality starts since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 8.
The left-hander worked mostly off of his fastball and changeup in an outing his manager Clint Hurdle called “fantastic.”
In the home first, Andrew McCutchen beat out a ground ball to shortstop with two outs after Burnett struck out the Pirates’ first two hitters. Neil Walker followed with a single.
Against his former batterymate, Pirates catcher Russell Martin hit a two-run double to right-center for a 2-1 advantage that wouldn’t have been possible without McCutchen’s hustle.
“That’s my game,” McCutchen said. “I go up, hit a ball on the ground, and I have an opportunity to do something with it. That’s what I use my legs for and that’s what I’m going to always be like.”
The Pirates added another run in the third when Josh Harrison led off with a triple that split the gap in right-center. Harrison tagged from third on a shallow fly ball by Walker to center fielder Ben Revere and scored as Revere’s throw came in offline.
Burnett (5-8) gave up three runs and five hits, walked two and struck out seven in seven innings in his return to Pittsburgh. The Pirates played a “Thank You A.J.” video on the scoreboard when Burnett took the mound in the first inning.
“The video caught me by surprise,” Burnett said. “I don’t know what to say about it. It was very moving. It was very unexpected.”
Byrd hit his 18th home run in the seventh inning to draw Philadelphia within 3-2.
Locke threw Byrd a changeup low and inside, which Byrd sent over the fence in left field.
“He got me,” Locke said. “I got ahead of him, threw a changeup, and boom, he hit it. I knew it was a home run.”
Byrd finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs and drove in half of the runs scored by the Phillies in Pittsburgh.
“He’s been very steady for us,” Sandberg said. “An everyday grinder who forces the chips in. He’s been one of our consistent bats.”
Harrison scored again in the eighth on a RBI triple by McCutchen, who was awarded third base because of fan interference following a crew chief review initiated by home plate umpire Dale Scott.
McCutchen then scored on a single by Starling Marte, and Jordy Mercer drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Pedro Alvarez’s throwing error was his 18th error of the season, which leads all major league players. … Pittsburgh RHP Charlie Morton (5-9, 3.30 ERA) will oppose St. Louis RHP Adam Wainwright (1-4, 1.89 ERA) on Monday when the teams begin a three-game series at Busch Stadium. … Philadelphia LHP Cole Hamels (2-5, 2.98 ERA) will face Milwaukee RHP Marco Estrada (7-5, 4.94 ERA) as the Phillies continue their road trip on Monday.
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