Russell Martin wanted a better fate for his starting pitcher and helped deliver a happier ending.
The Pittsburgh Pirates catcher hit a two-run home run to highlight a four-run seventh inning and the Pirates rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on Saturday. The comeback gave A.J. Burnett (2-2) his second victory over St. Louis in 10 days.
“It was great, man. I was really happy about that,” said Martin, who went 2-for-4 with a double. “A.J.’s been pitching his butt off all year and he hasn’t had too many wins under his belt and he should.
“It seemed like it was going to go like kind of how it’s been but we were able to muster up some wins and find a way to do it for him.
“It’s definitely gratifying. It feels great.”
Burnett gave up two runs and five hits in six innings. His six strikeouts expanded his team record for the month of April to a league-leading 48. Burnett threw seven shutout innings in a 5-0 win over St. Louis on April 17.
He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his six starts this season, giving up three just twice. The Pirates haven’t backed him at the plate, however, providing him an average of 2.33 runs.
Burnett used 111 pitches earning an exit earlier than he wanted but he was pleased with his results and the victory.
“It feels good just because the fact that these guys keep going,” he said. “Russ started us off with the homer. We’re never out of it. We’re never down. There’s no negative thoughts.
“As a starter, I’m going to try to keep doing that until [manager] Clint [Hurdle] takes me out.”
St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook left after six innings with a 2-0 lead in search of his 100th career victory. He struck out a season-high six and scattered six hits to lower his ERA to 0.98 in five starts.
The Pirates had three consecutive hits against reliever Joe Kelly (0-1) to lead off the seventh and were aided by a hit by pitch and a walk to score four runs. Martin’s fifth homer of the season drove in Pedro Alvarez to tie the score at 2, Andrew McCutchen walked with the bases loaded and Garrett Jones grounded in Starling Marte.
“They just couldn’t get it done today,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of his bullpen. “Any time you lose a game in the last third, it can be extremely frustrating. When the starter gives you a great chance like that, you hate to see it slip away.”
The Pirates added their fifth run on a double by Martin and a sacrifice fly from Gaby Sanchez. Martin has a hit in 10 of his past 11 games.
Pittsburgh had scored just one run in the first 15 innings of the series before their four-run outburst.