Series: Game 3 of 3

Pittsburgh won 3-0

Game 1: Friday, June 8
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Game 2: Saturday, June 9
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Game 3: Sunday, June 10
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Royals 2

(24-34, 16-14 away)

Pirates 3

(32-27, 19-11 home)

    Coverage:  ROOT

    1:35 PM ET, June 10, 2012

    PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

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    W: A. Burnett (6-2)

    L: B. Chen (5-6)

    S: J. Grilli (1)

    Andrew McCutchen's homer, 3 RBIs propel Pirates past Royals

    Associated Press

    PITTSBURGH -- With a left-hander on the mound, the Kansas City Royals didn't want to throw Andrew McCutchen a strike.

    "We didn't care if we walked him," manager Ned Yost said.

    Sound strategy, poor execution.

    McCutchen homered and drove in three runs, A.J. Burnett won his fifth consecutive start and the Pittsburgh Pirates finished their first sweep of an AL team in more than a decade by beating the Royals 3-2 Sunday.

    McCutchen hit an RBI double in the first inning and hit a two-run homer in the third. That gave Burnett (6-2) and three relievers enough support for the Pirates to win their fourth in a row despite having only three hits from all their other players.

    "The fact that McCutchen was the one who hurt us, that's the fact I'm very concerned about," Kansas City catcher Brayan Pena said.

    McCutchen has feasted on left-handers, improving his average to .463 against them after two hits in his first two at-bats against Bruce Chen.

    Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar each had two hits for the Royals, who have lost four in a row and six of eight.

    This was the 50th interleague series the Pirates had played since taking three in a row from the Cleveland Indians on June 15-17, 2001.

    Since May 25, the Pirates have the best record in the majors at 12-3.

    "This weekend was outstanding," Burnett said. "We are playing good ball now and we are hitting on a couple of cylinders and it's fun to watch."

    Burnett allowed two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Pittsburgh has won his past seven starts.

    Burnett had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings until Gordon singled with one out in the sixth. He did not allow a baserunner until Eric Hosmer drew a two-out walk in the fourth or a run until Escobar's two-out double scored Pena in the seventh.

    That snapped a streak of 20 consecutive innings without an earned run at PNC Park for Burnett. He is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA at home this season.

    "He had good tempo and good rhythm today on a hot day, and he was really efficient with things," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "It was a very, very solid performance all across the board for A.J. today."

    Tony Watson came on with runners at first and third and one out in the eighth, allowing Gordon to score on a Hosmer fielder's choice.

    Juan Cruz walked the bases loaded but struck out Mitch Maier for the final out of the eighth.

    With closer Joel Hanrahan unavailable because he had appeared in the past three games, Jason Grilli worked around trouble in the ninth for his fourth career save and first of the season. With two on and no outs, Grilli stuck out Gordon and Johnny Giavotella to end the game.

    Pittsburgh improved to 17-10 in one-run games.

    McCutchen entered the game with 15 hits in his past 27 at-bats against left-handers. Despite going hitless over the first two games of the series, he made it 17 for 29 over the course of the first three innings.

    "I hadn't been feeling that great the past few days, but after a few times out in the cage, I was able to put a show forth today," McCutchen said.

    His first-inning double to right drove in Alex Presley, who led off the inning with a single. With Neil Walker on and two outs in the third, McCutchen lifted a 1-2 pitch from Chen into the left-field bleachers for his 11th homer of the season.

    "He's leading everybody hitting left-handers," Yost said. "We really tried, even in the first inning, we didn't want to throw him a strike."

    Chen (5-6) allowed three runs on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings. He came into the game with five wins in his past six starts but fell to 0-4 in his career at PNC Park.

    The Royals have lost 24 of their past 33 games against NL teams.

    Game notes

    Four of the first six Royals to reach base in the game stole a base. Opponents have been successful in 23 consecutive stolen base attempts against the Pirates. ... The Royals' next three games are the only ones at home over a 12-game interleague stretch that began in Pittsburgh. The Brewers play at Kauffman Stadium Tuesday-Thursday. ... The Pirates' streak of 19 losing seasons is the longest in major league history. The second-longest active streak is the Orioles' 14 seasons. Both teams have winning records heading into a series that begins Tuesday in Baltimore.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumPNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
    Attendance25,752 (67.1% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:55
    Weather85 degrees, sunny
    Wind5 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Derryl Cousins, First Base - Ron Kulpa, Second Base - D.J. Reyburn, Third Base - Jim Wolf

    Research Notes

    A.J. Burnett turned in yet another strong performance on Sunday, going 7 1/3 while allowing 2 ER. That's been the story of the Pirates season this year - strong pitching and enough hitting to get by. But specific to Burnett, his curveball has not only been the high-strikeout pitch of seasons past, but he's also commanding it better. The net result has been one of the most devastating out-pitches in the game. Burnett is one of only 3 starting pitchers in baseball to post a strikeout rate of 50% or better and a walk rate below 2% on curveballs/sliders.
    From Elias: A.J. Burnett has won each of his last five starts (since May 19). He has not had a longer win streak since winning six straight starts in July-August 2008 with the Blue Jays.
    Andrew McCutchen didn't hit his first home run until May 8th. He hit his 11th of the season today. Only three players have more homers in that span. Josh Hamilton, Jose Bautista and Alfonso Soriano all have 12 homers since May 8th.

    ESPN Stats & Information