PITTSBURGH (AP) – A.J. Burnett scattered eight hits and Russell Martin provided some rare run support for the right-hander with a three-run homer that led the Pittsburgh Pirates over the Colorado Rockies 5-1 Sunday.
Burnett (5-7) struck out nine and walked one in his first complete game of the season and 23rd of his 15-year career. He threw 110 pitches, including 83 strikes.
Martin’s home run came in the fifth inning and put the Pirates ahead 5-0. Burnett hasn’t gotten much backing this season, and owns a losing record despite a 2.73 ERA.
Martin had missed two of the previous three games with soreness in his left knee. He drove a pitch from Manuel Corpas down the left-field line for his 10th home run of the season.
The Pirates, who have the best record in the major league at 67-44 following 20 consecutive losing seasons, maintained their 1 1/2-game lead in the NL Central over St. Louis.
The Pirates took a 2-0 lead on an RBI single by Andrew McCutchen in the first inning and Garrett Jones’ sacrifice fly in the third.
In the fifth, McCutchen walked with one out and Pedro Alvarez singled to chase starter Juan Nicasio. Corpas relieved and gave up Martin’s homer.
Nicasio (6-6) struggled for a second consecutive start, giving four runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings with three walks and four strikeouts. He allowed a career-high eight runs in his previous start Tuesday at Atlanta.
Nicasio had gone 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in his first three starts after being recalled July 12 from Triple-A Colorado Springs, where he had spent two weeks.
Jonathan Herrera had three hits for the Rockies, including a run-scoring single in the seventh inning that broke up Burnett’s shutout bid. Michael Cuddyer added two this.
NOTES: Colorado LF Carlos Gonzalez returned to the lineup after not starting for four straight games because of a sprained right wrist and went 1 for 4. … Rockies rookie 3B Nolan Arenado got his first day off since the All-Star break. … Pittsburgh RHP Jason Grilli, who has 30 saves, hopes to begin playing catch this week. He has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a strained right forearm. … Both teams are off Monday before opening three-game series Tuesday night. The Pirates will host the Miami Marlins with LHP Jeff Locke (9-3, 2.36) starting against RHP Henderson Alvarez (2-1, 2.61). Colorado will play the Mets at New York with RHP Tyler Chatwood (7-4, 3.15) pitching against RHP Jenrry Mejia (1-1, 2.08).
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