The Pittsburgh Pirates rebounded from their blowout loss to the Cubs on Monday with a dazzling performance from starter A.J. Burnett in the second game of the series on Tuesday. Burnett carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning but had the bid broken up by Adrian Cardenas who came through with a two-out single to right. It was the only hiccup in an dominating performance from the Bucs' starter, who cruised to a complete game 5-0 victory.
As a member of the Florida Marlins, Burnett pitched a no-hitter against the Padres in 2001 and he looked to be on his way to his second career no-no. But Burnett hit his speed bump in the bottom of the eighth, getting a little wild and hitting Darwin Barney in the head. It was a breaking ball that never came back over the plate and Barney ducked down into the pitch that caught him directly on the helmet.
Two batters later, Cardenas would break up the no-hit bid after a questionable call by home plate umpire. With the count at 2-2, Burnett painted the outside corner against Cardenas, the Cubs pinch-hitter who was just called up from Triple-A. But Nelson did not give Burnett the benefit of the doubt on the close call and forced the count full. On the next pitch, Cardenas would turn on a sinker and line it into right field to break up the no-hitter.
After the disappointing end to the no-hitter, Burnett bounced back to strike out David DeJesus and then quickly retire the side in the bottom of the ninth. He finished the game with eight strikeouts, two walks, and just the one hit. It was an impressive performance and just what the pitching staff needed after getting hammered at Wrigley on Monday night.
On offense, the Bucs struck early in the top of the first in a big way when Neil Walker took Casey Coleman deep for a grand slam. It was a 2-1 pitch that Walker deposited just over the ivy and into the first row of the right field bleachers. That's all Burnett would need but Walker's big night continued in the seventh when he knocked in newly-acquired Travis Snider on a sacrifice fly to left.
Snider had an impressive debut for the Bucs, going 1-for-4 from the dish, drawing a walk, and scoring two of the five Bucs' runs.
Jeff Karstens will try to clinch the series for the Bucs in the finale on Wednesday.