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Thursday September 18 2014
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Burnett and McCutchen lead Pirates over Royals

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A.J. Burnett pitched seven solid innings, and Andrew McCutchen knocked in three RBIs to lead the Pirates over the Royals and sweep the three game series Sunday afternoon at PNC Park.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are slowly closing in on claiming first place in the N.L. Central. With another victory over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday afternoon, the Pirates swept the Royals and closed in on the Cincinnati Reds for the division lead. A.J. Burnett pitched another magnificent game and shut down the Royals through seven innings, enough to give the Pirates a 3-2 victory.

“It was a very, very solid performance all across the board for A.J. today,” said manager Clint Hurdle of his starter. “He’s got a lot of confidence on the mound and a lot of experience to draw from. I think he’s in a good place as far as his comfort zone.”

Burnett threw seven and one-third innings and even carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, notching six strikeouts and only walking two batters. Burnett’s run support all came off of one person’s bat: Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen knocked in all three runs on the afternoon, including blasting a two run homer in the third inning to put the Pirates ahead for good.

The Bucs got on the board early in the bottom half of the first. Alex Presley led off the game with a single into right field and moved to second on a groundout by Neil Walker. McCutchen ripped a double into right center to bring in Presley and putting the Pirates up 1-0.

McCutchen added two more runs for the Pirates in the bottom of the third with a two run homer to left field. McCutchen hit a 1-2 pitch by Bruce Chen over the fence and into the bleachers to bring in Walker and put the Pirates up 3-0.

The Royals finally got on the board in the top of the seventh inning. Bryan Pena doubled to right field, and Alicedes Escobar followed that up with a double of his own into the left field corner to bring home Pena, cutting the score to 3-1.

The Royals closed the gap to just one run in the top of the eighth. With Alex Gordon on third and Johnny Giavotella on first, Eric Hosmer hit a ground ball to short to score Gordon on a fielder’s choice to second base.

With the score at 3-2 going into the ninth, the Pirates turned to another reliever other than Joel Hanrahan to close out the game. Jason Grilli came in and despite allowing the tying and go-ahead runs on base, he got the job done. Grilli struck out the final two batters to end the ballgame and put the Buccos five games over the .500 mark.

“It was big for us all around today,” said Grilli. “I just stayed aggressive and made pitches.”

With a sweep of the Royals, the Pirates are 12-3 in their last 15 games, a mark good enough for best in the league during that time-span.

“This weekend was outstanding,” said A.J. Burnett. “These are the things that happen when you win.”

On Deck:

The Pirates head to Baltimore to face the Orioles for another inter-league matchup. Their next game is on Tuesday with Brad Lincoln (3-1, 2.40 ERA) getting the start against Wei-Yin Chen (5-2, 3.49 ERA) with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

I spent three days late last month visiting 18 high schools across the WPIAL. I drove 533 miles, took hundreds of photographs, shook hands with dozens of coaches, athletic directors and principals and climbed way too many stadium steps. I loved every minute of it, of course.
Editor's DeskFeature OneHigh School
Chartiers-Houston got on the winning side for the first time this season with a 21-14 win over visiting Western Beaver in the Week 3 CoGo's Feature Matchup.
Feature TwoHSCOGOS2014Press Room
Ringgold knocked the Knoch Knights from the ranks of the unbeatens with a 20-12 win at Joe Montana Stadium on Friday night in the US Steel Game of the Week.
Feature ThreeHSUSS2014Press Room
The Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2014 season ended last Saturday much the same way their season started in the spring. With lots of promise, with much anticipation, but in the end, in a disappointing finish.
Feature FourSports Bites
PSR VIDEO
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 1 Xfinity HS FootballHigh School TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 2Pirates TV Channel
Full size video and summary... Misc YouTube Player 3USS HS GOTWHigh School TV Channel
Twenty-two WPIAL football teams will have new coaches pacing the sidelines this season, including a few that will be featured in the CoGo's Feature Matchup this season.
Custom 1HSCOGOS2014
Several of the most coveted recruits throughout the WPIAL have already made their college decisions, most notably Sterling Jenkins of Baldwin. Others, like Central Valley's Jordan Whitehead, are still being recruited.
Custom 2High SchoolKeystone Recruiting
Bill Cherpak misses the way it used to be. Back in the 80’s, when the current Thomas Jefferson High School coach was a player at Steel Valley, the recruiting process wasn’t publicized. It was low-key compared to the present.
Custom 3High School
The Mon-Valley has put plenty of athletes on Division 1 football teams over the years, including several who made it to the NFL. There are a few Mon-Valley natives playing D-1 ball this season.
Custom 4HSUSS2014