The Cubs came into Pittsburgh tonight on a 9 game losing streak, and looked to Ryan Dempster to stop the skid. A.J. Burnett took the mound for the Pirates on a Free Shirt Friday night at PNC Park. Burnett got through the first two innings, but it took a lot of pitches. The Pirates got to Dempster, who came into the game with an ERA of 2.28, in the second. Pedro Alvarez led off with a base knock, and got to second on a fielder’s choice. Rod Barajas singled to right fielder David DeJesus, who fielded it and threw it home. Pedro slid into the plate, just beating the tag to make it 1-0 Bucs.
Both pitchers got through the next three innings without much trouble, until A.J. got into a jam in the sixth. He gave up a single and walk back to back, and had already reached 105 pitches. Jared Hughes came out in relief, and was able to get the last two outs of the inning without giving up a run. Jason Grilli struck out the side in the seventh, and Juan Cruz pitched a scoreless eighth.
Dempster was still in the game to start the eighth inning, and got the first out. Neil Walker doubled off the Clemente Wall, which knocked Dempster out of the game after 7 1/3 innings. Lefty James Russell got the last two outs of the inning, and Joel Hanrahan came out with a 1-0 lead in the ninth. Hammer gave up a leadoff single to Darwin Barney, but got him out when Koyie Hill tried to bunt him over to second. Reed Johnson singled, putting runners on the corners. He struck out the next two batters, including making Starlin Castro whiff to end the game. Hammer picked up his 11th save, and the Bucs get their first win on a Friday of 2012.
– Josh Harrison got another start in right field because of his hot bat. He stole two bases, and picked up another hit. He now has a 10 game hitting streak.
– Burnett’s final line: 5 1/3 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 6 K, 2 BB.
Pirates (21-24) – Cubs (15-30)
Win: Burnett (3-2)
Loss: Dempster (0-3)
Save: Hanrahan (11)