There were no fan giveaways Monday night at Turner Field when the Pittsburgh Pirates played the Braves.
But it seemed A.J. Burnett was handing out two-run home runs.
The Braves pounded three two-run homers off Burnett en route to a 7-2 victory against the Pirates.
Brian McCann’s two-run homer gave the Braves a lead in the fourth. Jason Heyward’s two-run homer gave the Braves some breathing room in the fifth. And Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer gave the Braves a blowout later in the inning.
“It’s a good lineup,” said Burnett, who entered the game having surrendered four home runs all season. “That’s a good swinging team. You can’t get behind them, especially if you’re throwing cookies in there when you do get behind them.”
Burnett was tagged for a season-high six earned runs in five innings. He allowed eight hits, striking out five batters and walking three in what mat
ched his shortest outing of the year. With a 3-6 record, he has more losses than any Pirates pitcher this season.
Burnett said he felt squeezed by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna at times Monday night.
“That sinker in has been a big pitch for me,” he said. “When you don’t get that pitch, you can’t keep throwing it, so you’ve got to make your adjustment. McCann made his.”
Catcher Russell Martin and manager Clint Hurdle were ejected in the fourth inning by Iassogna after two questionable pitch calls. Burnett started the at-bat against Braves starter Kris Medlen with two sinkers that appeared to catch the inner edge of the strike zone, but Iassogna called both balls. Burnett protested the first call before Martin intervened and Iassogna pointed him back to the mound.
After the second call, Martin stood up and said “[Expletive] me,” according to Martin, and Iassonga tossed him out of the game.
Martin said he wanted to stand and take a deep breath “so I don’t say anything to get thrown out.”
“I say the ‘F’ word often when I play,” Martin said. “It’s just who I am. I don’t really see it as a bad thing, it’s just how I express myself. I guess he just didn’t like it.”
Martin’s ejection brought Hurdle storming from the dugout and within minutes he was tossed from the game as well.
It was Hurdle’s third ejection of the season and Martin’s first — though the catcher was ejected in a spring training game.
“I didn’t see the reason for Russell having to leave the game,” Hurdle said. “There were some questionable calls. It happens during the course of the game.”
Medlen (2-6) earned his second victory of the season, allowing one unearned run on seven hits in seven innings. Burnett started the game with a lower ERA (2.72) than Medlen (3.48). But after Burnett’s struggles and Medlen’s good performance, Medlen finished the night with a 3.14 ERA while Burnett’s rspiked to 3.22.
The Pirates (35-23) went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position while the Braves (35-22) were 0 for 6.
McCann earned a standing ovation in the seventh after getting his 1,000th career hit. The Braves added another run later in the inning off reliever Mike Zagurski.
The Pirates wasted a good opportunity to tie the score in the top of the fifth. Trailing, 2-1, Burnett and Marte hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and put runners on first and second with no outs and the heart of the Pirates order coming up. But Neil Walker popped out to shortstop and Garrett Jones grounded into a double play to quickly end the rally.
Gaby Sanchez gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the third with an RBI double. With two outs and a full count, Sanchez smacked a 90 mph fastball for a line drive that landed just shy of the warning track and bounced up into the seats. Walker scored from second base on the play.
Walker was hit by a pitch and reached second base on a throwing error by B.J. Upton, who fired from center field to first base to try to get Walker out after Jones flied out. The throw sailed over the head of Freeman, the first baseman, and Walker sprinted toward second.
Walker got the benefit of a close call at second base after McCann tried to throw him out, and the Pirates made the most of the opportunity.
The Editor & Chief, the brains so to say, behind Pittsburgh Blitz. Jim is a rabid sports fan who just loves his Stillers, Pens and Buccos. Feel free to contact us at info[@]pittsburgh-blitz.com if you have any questions or comments or would like to join our staff and write for Pittsburgh Blitz.