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Preview: Phillies (62-73) at Pirates (70-65)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Game: 3
Venue: PNC Park
Date: July 06, 2014 1:35 PM EDT

A.J. Burnett was a big reason why a Pittsburgh Pirates franchise that was at or near the bottom of the league standings ended a 21-year postseason drought in 2013.

Now the well-traveled veteran is in a position once familiar to Pirates fans - last place - in his first season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He returns to Pittsburgh on Sunday to face good friend Jeff Locke as he tries to help the lowly Phillies avoid their first three-game sweep in the Steel City in 12 years.

Burnett (5-7, 3.92 ERA) spent his previous two seasons with the Pirates, leading the 2012 club with 16 wins and going 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA last year as Pittsburgh won 94 games and lost to eventual NL champion St. Louis in a division series.


"Coming here and coming to a place where there was a young crew and being one of the older guys, I still give all my thanks to the guys in that locker room and what they thought of me from day one, and even today," Burnett told MLB's official website. "We stay in touch. It's a special group."

The 37-year-old Burnett was leaning toward retirement before signing a two-year deal with Philadelphia (37-50) in which he will make $33.5 million if he makes 30 starts or more in both years.

Burnett has pitched more innings than any Philadelphia pitcher, and there are rumors that he could be on the trading block. Pittsburgh (46-41), which didn't extend a $14.1 million qualifying offer to Burnett prior to the start of free agency, is considered a prime candidate for his services.

The right-hander's old team is surging into contention while winning 11 of 14. The Pirates last swept the Phillies from April 19-21, 2002, and they've yet to sweep anyone in 2014.

Burnett will return to town to square off with a Pirates pitcher who looked up to him in Locke (1-1, 3.46), who went 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two starts against the Phillies last year.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun," Locke said. "No different than any other game, I know A.J.'s going, no different than I'm going for us. It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm sure there's a lot more pressure on him than there is me, that's for sure."

The Pirates have won the last four starts by the left-hander, who gave up two runs in eight innings and did not get a decision in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Arizona.

Jimmy Rollins is 0 for 6 against Locke while Burnett has never faced the Pirates' top six leaders in at_bats.

That group of Pittsburgh hitters includes superstar Andrew McCutchen, who is 9 for 17 with five RBIs in his last four games. Jordy Mercer, who is 4 for 6 with four RBIs in this series and 9 for 14 in his last five games, has also never faced Burnett.

McCutchen hit a two-run homer in Saturday's 3-2 win after he had four hits in Friday's 8-2 rout. The Phillies fell behind 3-0 after two innings Saturday after trailing 4-0 after one Friday.

'We haven't been able to bounce back from being down early in the game,' manager Ryne Sandberg said.

Rollins and Ryan Howard are each 0 for 6 in the series for the Phillies, losers of eight of nine.

The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

Phillies at Pirates
Fri, Jul 4 Final 2 to 8
 Boxscores    Recaps
Phillies at Pirates
Sat, Jul 5 Final 2 to 3
 Boxscores    Recaps
Phillies at Pirates
Sun, Jul 6 Final 2 to 6
 Boxscores    Recaps

 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PHI  +155   -150   7.5 
 PIT  -170   +130   

 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PHI  +147   -140   7.5 
 PIT  -162   +120   

 Team  ML   RUN   O/U 
 PHI  61%   17%   27% 
 PIT  39%   83%   73% 

 Jul 5, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PHI 2 Under: 5 
 PIT 3 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Jul 4, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PHI 2 Over: 10 
 PIT 8 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Boxscores    Recaps
 Mar 29, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 0 Over: 0 
 PHI 0 Cover: +107 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 28, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 3 Cover: +100 
 PHI 0 Over: 3 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 22, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PHI 3 Over: 8 
 PIT 5 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 16, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 5 Cover: +100 
 PHI 0 Over: 5 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 14, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PHI 5 Over: 11 
 PIT 6 Cover: +100 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 2, 2014  Score  ATS Results 
 PIT 4 Cover: +115 
 PHI 1 Over: 5 
 Tools:   Recaps

 Sunday, Jul 6
    Royals at Indians
1:05 PM EDT
    Rangers at Mets
1:10 PM EDT
    Brewers at Reds
1:10 PM EDT
    Orioles at Red Sox
1:35 PM EDT
    Diamondbacks at Braves
1:35 PM EDT
    Cubs at Nationals
1:35 PM EDT
    Phillies at Pirates
1:35 PM EDT
    Mariners at White Sox
2:10 PM EDT
    Yankees at Twins
2:10 PM EDT
    Marlins at Cardinals
2:15 PM EDT
    Astros at Angels
3:35 PM EDT
    Blue Jays at Athletics
4:05 PM EDT
    Dodgers at Rockies
4:10 PM EDT
    Giants at Padres
4:10 PM EDT
    Rays at Tigers
8:05 PM EDT
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