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Pirates Sweep Royals, Move Within Half-Game Of First

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Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Burnett helped the Pirates complete a sweep of the Royals with a 3-2 win. The Bucs are now 32-27 and are a half-game behind the Reds, who host the Tigers tonight at 8:00.

Alex Presley singled to lead off the bottom of the first, and McCutchen brought him home by smacking a double to the gap in right-center, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Then in the third, Neil Walker hit a two-out single, and McCutchen hit a hard line drive to left that cleared the short fence, putting the Pirates up 3-0.

That looked like it would be more than enough for A.J. Burnett, who took a no-hitter into the sixth. (Alex Gordon broke it up with an infield single.)

In the seventh, Brayan Pena hit a hustling double off Burnett with one out, and Alcides Escobar brought him home with a ground-rule double to left.

The bottom half of the inning wasn't particularly uneventful until McCutchen, with two outs, hit a fly ball toward the foul line in right. Outfielder Mitch Maier tumbled over the short wall there and appeared to make an amazing catch, showing the ball to the umpire as he stood up. Replays revealed he hadn't made the catch, however.

The Pirates removed Burnett (to a nice ovation) after he allowed a couple singles in the eighth. Tony Watson got Eric Hosmer to ground out (allowing a run in the process), then gave up a walk to pinch-hitter Billy Butler. Juan Cruz then came on and walked Pena. Gulp. Fortunately, though, up came Maier, who had debts to repay to the umpires. They rung him up on strikes (I haven't seen the at-bat yet, but I'm eager to watch that one when the game gets archived), and the Pirates escaped with a 3-2 lead.

Jason Grilli came on to get the save in the ninth, since Joel Hanrahan has pitched a lot recently. Grilli allowed a single and a walk, but struck out Gordon and Johnny Giavotella to clinch the win.