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Pirates whip Padres 8-1

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

The Pirates' season took another strangely non-collapse-y turn as A.J. Burnett helped the Bucs beat the Padres Tuesday night, 8-1. Better still, the Cardinals and Reds both lost, helping the Pirates build their lead in the NL Central back to two games.

The Bucs scored two in the first on a Neil Walker homer and a Russell Martin RBI double. Then, in the third, Pedro Alvarez brought home Walker with an RBI triple to make it 3-0. In the bottom of that inning, Burnett loaded the bases with two outs, but struck out Yonder Alonso (thanks in part to what looked like a questionable strike two call) to end the threat. Burnett ended up striking out seven batters while walking one in seven innings.

The Padres ended up getting one in the fourth on a solo shot by Jedd Gyorko, but a huge seventh inning helped the Pirates put the game away. The seventh was keyed by two triples -- one a two-run hit by Andrew McCutchen on a hit that Alexi Amarista dove for an missed, and then a bases-clearing job by Josh Harrison. Padres pitchers also walked three Pirates batters that inning, and all ended up scoring.

Vin Mazzaro pitched the eighth and Jared Hughes threw the ninth without issue, and the Pirates picked up a narrative-defying win, suggesting that they weren't quite ready for their collapse. They're now 74-51, and they're still 8.5 games clear of the last playoff spot.