Pirates Win Fourth Straight, Beat Marlins 5-1; Remain 0.5 Game Out Of First

PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 21: A.J. Burnett #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches in the first inning of the game against the Miami Marlins at PNC Park on July 21, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The 5th largest crowd in the history of PNC Park, 39,411, saw the Pirates win again, defeating the Miami Marlins 5-1.

The Pirates got off to a quick start as Alex Presley walked to open the home half of the first and Neil Walker followed by doubling him to third on a ball deflected by third baseman Greg Dobbs. After Andrew McCutchen struck out swinging, yea it happens, in fact it happened three times tonight, Garrett Jones brought Presley home with a ground out to second. The Marlins responded quickly when Justin Ruggiano drilled A.J. Burnett's 3-1 fastball into the stands in right leading off the second, tieing the game at 1.

It stayed that way until the fourth when the Pirates did something that hadn't happened in all of major league baseball since September 1998. The Bucs scored four runs without a hit. What made it even more unique is the Pirates didn't regiester an official at bat until the ninth batter of the inning. Here's how it went down: Barajas (HBP); Barmes (HBP); Burnett (sac bunt/E2, run scores 2-1); Presley (BB); Walker (sac fly, run scores 3-1); McCutchen (BB); Jones (BB, run scores 4-1. Pitching change Gaudin replaces Zambrano); McGehee (BB, run scores 5-1); Alvarez (K); Barajas (K). Carlos Zambrano completely lost it and ended up leaving having thrown 97 pitches in only 3.1 innings.

The four spot was all A.J Burnett needed as he delivered another efficient outing pitching into the eighth, leaving to a rousing ovation from the team's 11th sellout crowd of the season. Burnett never pitched to more than four batters in an inning and raised his home record to 7-0, while the Bucs improved to 10-0 in his starts at PNC.

Brad Lincoln came on with runners on the corners and struck out Logan Morrison with a hard curve ball down and in on the lefty. Lincoln came back out for the ninth and got two more strikeouts, lowering his major league-leading ERA out of the pen and recording his first career save. And once again he looked excellent doing it.

In all honesty it wasn't a very interesting game other than the anomalous fourth inning and the Marlins actually outhit the Bucs 9-5, but eight walks and a couple of hit batters were the difference. And boring or not, how many ho-hum wins have the Pirates had the past twenty years? Times, they are a changin'. The Pirates will go into Sunday's game a season-high 13 games over .500 at 53-40 and they are now 5-3 since the break.

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