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Pirates knock off Phillies, win fourth straight

PHILADELPHIA -- It looks like the Pirates are getting their groove back.

Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison homered and A.J. Burnett was strong in Tuesday night's 7-2 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Pirates (17-16) have won four consecutive games and five of their last six to push past the .500 mark for the first time since May 1.

"We stayed focused on offense after some early hard-hit balls didn't find grass, and A.J. got us off on the mark, throwing zeros up," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "A big three-run homer [by Harrison] a big two-run homer [McCutchen] with a big two-run single, [Gregory Polanco] sandwiched in-between."

It has been a much different run recently for the Phillies, who have lost 11 of their last 14 games. The Phillies (11-23) are off to their worst start since 1971. They need to win Wednesday's game to avoid their worst start since 1961, when they were 11-24.

"It's definitely frustrating," Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said. "We have to keep going."

Video: [email protected]: Cutch hammers a two-run homer to center


Harrison brings heat back to hot corner: Making his first start at third base since Friday, Harrison was also back to hitting like a corner infielder, with a no-doubt smash into the left-field seats for the Bucs' first three runs. Harrison's hadn't had an RBI since May 2. More >

O'Sullivan will have to wait: O'Sullivan had not earned a win in a big league game since May 12, 2011, exactly four years ago Tuesday. But it was not meant to be. He allowed three runs in five innings to take the loss. O'Sullivan is 0-9 in 18 appearances since he earned that win, which is the longest active losing streak in the big leagues. More >

Video: [email protected]: Francoeur leaps to rob Polanco of a hit

Just another day at the office for A.J.: Burnett pitched what is becoming an every-fifth day gem, hit line drives soft enough to be barehanded, and set up two huge runs with a two-strike sacrifice. And Philadelphia fans had to be asking, "Who is that guy, and what did he do with the real Burnett?" More >

Video: [email protected]: Burnett strong in return to Philadelphia

Walks and more walks for Phillies relievers: The Phillies' bullpen entered the night with 59 walks, 11 more than any other bullpen in baseball. Right-hander Luis Garcia walked the first two batters he faced in the seventh inning, which led to the first two runs in a four-run inning and turned a one-run deficit into a five-run deficit. More >

Video: [email protected]: Polanco drives in two with single in 7th


"I didn't really see what happened until I looked down and the ball was in my hand." -- O'Sullivan, on his unlikely bare-handed catch off a Burnett comebacker

"Told him to use his glove. Why would he catch it with his bare hand? 'Use your glove, man, don't use your hand.'" -- Burnett, on what he said to O'Sullivan after making the catch


The Phillies are a season-high 12 games under .500. They have not been this far under .500 this early in the season since May 15, 1971, when they opened at 9-22.


Phillies second baseman Chase Utley singled to right field in the fourth inning to give him a very modest four-game hitting streak. He has four hits in his last 10 at-bats, which is progress considering his average dropped Friday to .099.

Video: [email protected]: Utley brings Phils within a run on groundout


Pirates: Francisco Liriano takes the hill Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET to oppose Cole Hamels in a duel of lefties, continuing an odd trend. The Bucs will be facing only their fourth lefty starter of the season, fewest in the Majors, and each time it has been a matchup of southpaws. This will be the second to feature Liriano, and Jeff Locke has also been involved twice.

Phillies: Hamels hopes to build on arguably his best start of the season last week against the Mets, when he allowed four hits, one run, two walks and struck out eight in seven innings. Hamels has pitched six or more innings in six of his first seven starts, and seven innings in two of his last three.

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Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer and on his podcast. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Sean O'Sullivan, Andrew McCutchen, Cole Hamels, Luis Garcia, Chase Utley, A.J. Burnett, Josh Harrison, Jeff Locke