SAN DIEGO -- The Pirates continued to ride their starting pitching Thursday night against the Padres at Petco Park as they won their seventh in a row, 11-5, this time behind veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Pirates starters are 7-0 during the streak and Burnett continued a spectacular May. In this month alone, Burnett is 5-0, winning five in a row in his six starts. But it was his worst outing of the month statistically, as he allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. Burnett had allowed five runs (four earned) in his previous six starts.
"It's a nice little run we're on. I nice little run our offense is on," Burnett said. "They came out swinging the bats tonight. It's a good thing they did. We're playing hard, man. We're playing good all the way around."
The inverse was true for the Padres, whose string of nine consecutive quality starts came to an end when Ian Kennedy didn't make it out of the fourth inning. Kennedy had the last non-quality start in a home loss to the Nationals on May 17. Kennedy allowed homers to Jung Ho Kang, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte in the first three innings as the Padres lost for the sixth time in their last seven home games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bucs blitz Kennedy: Of the first 13 Pirates players to come to the plate, seven reached safely and six of them scored, giving them a 6-0 lead before an out was recorded in the third inning. All the runs came home on the strength of three homers -- a two-run shot, a three-run shot and a solo shot. More >
Follow the bouncing ball: With a runner on first in the fifth, the Padres' Yangervis Solarte hit a grounder to second baseman Neil Walker. Walker looked at second for the force, but threw wildly to first for an error. Catcher Francisco Cervelli was backing up the play, but then he threw the ball away trying to get Solarte at second. Solarte eventually scored to pull the Padres to within 7-4.
Burnett locks in: It could have been much worse in the fifth as the Padres had two runs in, runners on first and second and no one out. But Burnett struck out Matt Kemp and after a wild pitch advanced the runners, Derek Norris also whiffed and Cory Spangenberg flied to center, ending the threat. More >
A run of bad throws: With two Pirates aboard in the sixth, Marte hit a liner to shortstop Alexi Amarista. He tried to double up Walker at third, but Amarista's throw landed in the Pirates' dugout. That scored Walker and Andrew McCutchen from second for an 11-4 Pittsburgh lead.
"You have to be as consistent as possible, and my career has been about that. This has been a real test with the way I've pitched." -- Kennedy, after losing his fourth straight start
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Burnett is on his final lap around the league, after declaring this is his last season. He'll be retiring at 38, the same age that Padres manager Bud Black retired after pitching 15 seasons. "His stuff is way better than mine at 38,'' said Black, who went 121-116 in his career. "This guy is doing very well; he has great stuff.'' In Black's final season with the 1995 Cleveland Indians, he was 4-2 with a 6.85 ERA.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: The second game of the four-game series at Petco will have Francisco Liriano take his 2-4 record and 3.86 ERA into the 10:10 p.m. ET start.
Padres: The ace is up for Friday night's game and that's a good thing after getting embarrassed Thursday. Undefeated James Shields (6-0, 3.75 ERA) takes the mound.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball.
Jay Paris is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.