Pirates 5, Marlins 1
A Pittsburgh fan would have to be well into his 20s to remember a Pirates team this good. They would have to be a little older to recall an inning quite like the one that lifted their team to yet another win on Saturday.
A.J. Burnett remained undefeated at home by pitching 7 2-3 strong innings and Pittsburgh matched a season high with its fourth consecutive win, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1.
The Pirates went ahead during a four-run fourth in which they did not record a hit and did not so much as record an official at-bat until their ninth man came to the plate.
''Never,'' Burnett said when asked if he's seen an inning like the one that gave Pittsburgh a 5-1 lead. ''Never, but that's the game of baseball, man. That's why we play.''
The announced crowd of 39,411 was the 11th sellout of the season in a city that hasn't experienced a winning baseball season in 20 years.
As if the idea of the Pirates tied for the third-most wins in baseball in late July wasn't extraordinary enough, the fifth-largest crowd in PNC Park history witnessed one of the most bizarre innings in the majors this season.
Miami starter Carlos Zambrano imploded in the fourth, when Pittsburgh scored three times via bases-loaded walks and an error.
''You're not going to win many games if that happens in one inning,'' Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen said.
The most recent time a team scored four runs in one inning without a hit was the Oakland Athletics on Sept 23, 1998, against Seattle, according to STATS, LLC.
Also according to STATS, LLC, only once in the past 28 years has an inning started with each of the first eight men going to the plate and failing to record an official at-bat: St. Louis did it against Philadelphia on June 26, 1991.
''I can't remember an inning like that,'' Pirates shortstop Clint Barmes said. ''That was a pretty crazy inning, to score the runs we did in the way we did.''
The fourth alone was enough for Burnett (11-3) to improve to 7-0 at home this season and for Pittsburgh (53-40) to move 13 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 1992 season.
The Pirates entered the day a half-game behind the Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Reds beat Milwaukee 6-2 on Saturday night.
Garrett Jones had two RBIs and Alex Presley scored two runs for the Pirates, who have the majors' best home record at 31-14.
Brad Lincoln got four outs to earn his first save as a professional. Pittsburgh has won 20 of its past 24 at home and 15 of its past 20 overall.
Justin Ruggiano led off the second with his seventh home run for the Marlins, who have lost four straight.
Although he had only three strikeouts, Burnett scattered eight hits and one walk. Only four Marlins runners advanced past first base.
''What's not dominant about retiring guys, giving up eight hits but only giving up one run?'' Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. ''That's dominant.''
Burnett improved to 8-1 in 12 career starts at PNC Park. That's the same record Zambrano entered the game with at the 11-year-old park, but he was done in by a fourth in which he walked three, hit two batters and committed a throwing error on a sacrifice attempt by Burnett. Pittsburgh's Rod Barajas scored on that play, Barmes came home on a sacrifice fly by Neil Walker and Burnett was forced in when Jones walked.
Chad Gaudin continued the trend when he was called in to relieve Zambrano, walking Casey McGehee to force Presley home.
Zambrano (5-8) was charged with five runs (four earned), three hits and six walks with two strikeouts. He has lost five of his past six decisions and has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his past eight outings after doing so in four of his first 11 starts.
''I'm not pitching the way I'm supposed to pitch,'' Zambrano said. ''I'm not doing my job. It's terrible.''
Greg Dobbs and Omar Infante each had two hits for the Marlins, whose only hit with a runner in scoring position was Lee's infield single. Miami entered on a 1-for-23 slide in such situations.
Notes: Miami 3B Hanley Ramirez was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game due to an infected right hand. Guillen said Ramirez is expected to not be in the lineup for a few more days. Ramirez, whose infection was the result of missing a dosage of prescribed antibiotics, entered the game as a pinch-runner Friday. ... On June 26, 1991, the Cardinals walked six times and hit two sacrifice flies to begin the bottom of the first against Phillies. ... According to STATS, LLC., the previous time any team had eight consecutive plate appearances without an at-bat was Aug. 13, 2008, by the Astros in the sixth inning against the Giants. ... Sunday's pitching matchup is Miami RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-6, 3.95 ERA) against Pittsburgh RHP Jeff Karstens (2-2, 4.15)