A.J. Burnett pitched seven strong innings, Neil Walker and Pedro Alvarez doubled in the fourth, and Starling Marte hit a ground ball up the middle to single home Walker for the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth as the Bucs defeated the Diamondbacks 2-1 Saturday night.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Diamondbacks scored first, as Chris Owings singled and stole second, then came home on a single by Tuffy Gosewisch. But that was the only run Burnett would allow. He struck out four batters and walked two, one intentionally. Tony Watson gave up two straight singles to start the eighth, but got three straight outs to strand both runners. Mark Melancon then pitched a scoreless ninth, although he was still only throwing 88 MPH, and he benefited from a strong throw by Francisco Cervelli to catch the potential tying run trying to steal.
The Bucs offense, meanwhile, scored enough to get the job done, although they struck out ten times (eight of them on punchouts by hard-throwing starter Rubby De La Rosa) and didn't walk. Entering the game, the Pirates were already dead last in baseball in walk percentage; that can't continue, and fortunately, it probably won't. Whatever -- the Bucs are now two games above .500, at 10-8. Their wobbly start appears to be mostly behind them.