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Burnett nearly perfect in Pirates' win

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett reached one significant milestone Wednesday night, but he missed out an even bigger one.

The Pittsburgh Pirates' veteran right-hander recorded his 2,000th strikeout and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park.

Burnett lost his bid for a no-hitter with two outs in the seventh inning when Carlos Beltran hit a double that one-hopped the fence in right-center. Burnett had a perfect game until one out in the sixth when he hit Daniel Descalsco with a 2-2 pitch.

"I thought A.J. was going to get the no-hitter," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "The breaking ball was big and the fastball was really good, too. He had their hitters in between all night because he was throwing both pitches so well. He definitely pitched well enough to throw a no-hitter."

Burnett already has one on his resume: He threw one for the Florida Marlins against the Padres in 2001. He had nine walks that night.

"Of course I wanted to throw a no-hitter," Burnett said. "That's always the goal every time I go out there. You don't want to give up any hits if you're a pitcher. I respect the fact I'm facing major-league hitters, but my job is to get them out and not give up hits.

"I want one more before I retire. The one I threw was an ugly one. I want a pretty one."

Ironically, the 15-year veteran Burnett got Beltran looking for his 2,000th strikeout to lead off the second inning. Burnett received a standing ovation from the crowd, and catcher Russell Martin and the infielders briefly converged at the mound to shake his hand.

"If anybody doesn't appreciate what a milestone 2,000 strikeouts is then they've never played the game or they have no respect for the game," Hurdle said. "You're not going to be around long enough to have 2,000 strikeouts unless you have good stuff and also know how to pitch. It's a great accomplishment."

Burnett was lifted after the seventh inning, having allowed only the one hit. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.

Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli completed the one-hitter.

"He was really good," Beltran said of Burnett. "He threw me a slider up and out over the plate that I hit for the double, but that was about the only bad pitch he made all night. Some nights, the other guy is just better."

Rookie Shelby Miller (2-1) pitched well in defeat, giving up two just runs in six innings. He allowed six hits and one walk with six strikeouts.

Miller retired 15 batters in a row at one point between Neil Walker's two-out double in the first inning and Andrew McCutchen's infield single with two outs in the sixth.

McCutchen scored on a single by Walker to extend the Pirates' lead to 2-0.

"I thought Shelby pitched really well, but their guy was a little bit better," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the other guy. That's the case tonight. We never got anything going offensively."

Pittsburgh added an unearned run in the seventh off Trevor Rosenthal on third baseman's David Freese's two-out throwing error then scored two more in the eighth when Gaby Sanchez hit a pinch RBI double and scored on Pedro Alvarez's single.

McCutchen and Walker had two hits apiece.

"Miller was really tough, and we had to really work to get a couple of runs off of him," McCutchen said. "But A.J. was just great. It was fun watching him pitch the way he did. I felt like I was sitting in a lawn chair in center field just watching him pitch. He did a great job against a really good lineup."

NOTES: Pittsburgh LHP Wandy Rodriguez will start Friday night against Atlanta after completing a 25-pitch bullpen session. Bothered by a strained left hamstring, Rodriguez has not pitched since April 8 when he left a game at Arizona in the third inning. ... Matheny gave 1B Allen Craig and SS Pete Kozma the night off and started Matt Adams and Descalso in their place. ... The Cardinals open a four-game series at Philadelphia on Thursday night, with RHP Adam Wainwright (2-1, 2.05) facing LHP Cole Hamels (0-2, 7.56). ... Also on Thursday night, the Pirates begin a four-game home series with Atlanta as LHP Jeff Locke (1-1, 4.09) pitches against RHP Julio Teheran (0-0, 7.36).
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