Jones' two blasts give Burnett 15th victory

Jones' two blasts give Burnett 15th victory

Jones' two blasts give Burnett 15th victory
PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett took the mound on Thursday with a new ingredient in his repertoire. He had his usual fastball and knuckle curve, and he also had an attitude.

It isn't quite clear which did the Dodgers more harm, but the total package sparked the Pirates to a slump-interrupting 10-6 victory at PNC Park.

"Happy flying," Burnett said with a grin after helping send off the Bucs to St. Louis for an important road series on a winning note. "It was good to get back out there and shake hands, shows the fight in this clubhouse. These guys kept battling, and Jonesy had a great day."

Burnett's chief accomplice was Garrett (Jonesy) Jones, who hit two tiebreaking three-run homers, in the first and fifth innings.

Jones, too, had seen the Dodgers pile up 20 runs and 28 hits the previous two nights.

"We're playing a team that's been hitting the ball well, so it was good to score a bunch of runs and get a win and start a winning streak," said Jones, who earned the second curtain call of the season, and of his career, following his second smash off Dodgers righty Joe Blanton.

The late-afternoon game got heated right about the time taverns around town were offering discounted libations to the after-work crowd, but it definitely was not a happy hour for the Dodgers. Three of them -- Matt Kemp, manager Don Mattingly and Blanton -- were ejected over issues with home-plate umpire Angel Campos' pitch calls.

Or, at least, that's the way Campos heard it. The Dodgers insisted that Kemp, whose second-inning ejection started the dominoes, actually was cheering on teammate Andre Ethier at the time.

"He was barking about the pitch to Dre, the second strike," admitted Mattingly, "but then Angel said, 'That's enough. I don't want to hear another word.' So the next thing that came out of [Kemp's mouth] -- I heard it, clear as a bell -- he said -- because Matt knows where to stop -- and Matt said, 'Let's go, Dre!' And [Campos] looked over, and he threw him out of the game. It's unacceptable."

Being spared the Dodgers' biggest bat certainly did not disappoint Burnett, who wore the chip of six losses in seven games -- the past three in a row to the Dodgers -- on his right shoulder and wanted to prevent a 10th consecutive loss to Los Angeles.

"You don't really think of that during the game," Burnett said of Kemp's absence. "I know they were fired up in there. They've got more than one big bat in their lineup. That's a good team."

"He came out knowing what was at hand and wanted to put his foot down," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.

Spending much of his 6 2/3-inning stint dismissively yelling at some Los Angeles hitters and jawing with the entire Dodgers bench, Burnett further endeared himself to both his teammates and to Pittsburgh fans.

Recognizing and appreciating Burnett's demeanor, the crowd of 25,073 gave him a rousing ovation when he walked off the mound, even though he had already allowed six runs and was responsible for three more he left on the bases for Tony Watson.

Watson made sure they stayed there, ending the seventh by coaxing a grounder out of Ethier.

"Biggest out of the game for me," Hurdle said, "with a professional hitter up there and them clawing back within striking distance."

In posting his 15 victory -- the Pirates' first 15-game winner since Todd Ritchie in 1999 -- to tie for the National League lead, Burnett allowed seven hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts.

Blanton lasted 4 1/3 innings and was charged with seven hits and eight runs, as well as a season-high four walks. He had already been removed from the game and was walking toward the dugout when his constant barrage of Campos earned an ejection.

Burnett's quick first inning, ending with strikeouts of Mark Ellis and Kemp, was rare for the Pirates. Their offense's response to it was even rarer. In the bottom of the inning, Jones followed Starling Marte's infield single and a walk to Andrew McCutchen with his 18th home run for a 3-0 lead.

Los Angeles first baseman James Loney's solo homer took one notch out of that lead in the second, Pedro Alvarez's throwing error on an infield single took another in the fourth and that inning ended with Hanley Ramirez's two-run homer overcoming all of it.

Burnett's hard stare accompanied Ramirez on the second half of his trot.

"I thought he did something when he crossed second base," Burnett said. "When you hit a home run, act like you've hit one before. Loney was very professional, ran hard the whole way. I thought [Ramirez] did something at second base. So I was fired up about getting him out [on strikes in the sixth]. Anyone hits a home run off you, of course, you're happy to get them the next time."

Clint Barmes' RBI triple tied it at 4 in the bottom of the fourth, and Jones' repeat blast and a solo shot by Alvarez built an apparently comfortable 8-4 lead in the fifth.

The Dodgers made it briefly uncomfortable in the seventh with a pair of runs, one on Ellis' infield single and another when Juan Rivera was hit on the leg with the bases loaded. Barmes eased the growing tension with a two-run single that got those runs back in the bottom of the seventh.

The pair of three-run blows increased Jones' RBI total to 64, as he joined McCutchen, Alvarez and the injured Neil Walker to make the Pirates the second NL team with a quartet of men who have driven in 60-plus runs. They were beaten to that distinction by a couple of days by the Cardinals' Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Allen Craig.

All of those guys will be gathering in St. Louis for what should be a lively weekend.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.