User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Braves blank Pirates, 4-0

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Don't blame history. Don't blame 19 years of bad mojo. Clint Hurdle and the Pittsburgh Pirates don't want to hear it.

Advertisement
Following a 4-0 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday that left with the Pirates with a 79-83 record that extended their ignominious streak of under-.500 seasons to an even 20 in a row, the straight-talking manager offered no excuses about another promising summer gone awry.

``We needed to win more games,'' he said. ``Our goal was to win more games.''

Something the Pirates didn't do enough of down the stretch. Pittsburgh was 62-46 on Aug. 8 before fading to a 17-37 finish.

A lot of the losses looked like their four-hit performance in the finale. The Pirates could muster little offensively against a steady stream of Atlanta pitchers - including the retiring Ben Sheets - and offer little support of starter A.J. Burnett (16-10), who gave up four runs in 5 2-3 innings.

``You have to try and take some positives from it,'' said centerfield Andrew McCutchen, who had one hit in the finale to finish second behind San Francisco's Buster Posey for the NL batting title with a .327 average. ``Every year is hard to take when you don't end up where you want to be. Every year is tough.''

This one, perhaps, tougher than most.

The Pirates were the talk of baseball over the summer behind a pitching staff that flourished behind Burnett, who embraced the roll of ace the team desperately needed. He won eight straight decisions in the spring but tailed off over the final two months and couldn't avoid his fifth loss in his six starts, though he exited to a warm ovation.

``I thought he had an exceptional season,'' Hurdle said of Burnett. ``He took ownership of the trade, the career, the opportunity to re-ignite himself.''

Something the playoff-bound Braves know a little bit about. Jason Heyward singled twice and scored two runs and Luis Avilan (1-0) picked up the victory but the day belonged to a pair of veterans making one last stand.

Third baseman Chipper Jones provided a dose of magic in his final regular season game while Sheets went down throwing in his last major league appearance.

A large number of Atlanta fans showed up to bid the retirement-bound Jones farewell, though it appeared their only glimpse of Jones would come when he handed the lineup card to umpires. The 40-year-old planned on sitting out a second straight game to get some rest before the playoffs, but was inserted as a pinch hitter leading off the sixth.

The switch-hitting Jones didn't waste any time. Standing in as a left-hander against Burnett, Jones slapped the first pitch he saw to right field for a single for the 2,726th and final regular-season hit of his career. Jones stuck around to eventually score on a single by Brian McCann that put Atlanta up 3-0.

``I'd like to thank A.J. for coming right at me,'' Jones said with a laugh.

That was more than enough to send the Braves into the postseason on an up note and send Sheets out a winner in his final game.

The four-time All-Star was in the midst of an admirable comeback from a series of arm injuries this summer - going 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA - before heading to the disabled list in August with right shoulder issues.

He announced earlier this week he had no plans on sticking around for the postseason, but eagerly accepted a chance to walk into retirement on his own terms after the Braves opted to rest scheduled starter Tim Hudson.

Sheets had little trouble during his one inning of work, striking out Starling Marte and McCutchen, the final pitch of his career a 96 mph fastball McCutchen couldn't get his bat on.

``"It felt great,'' Sheets said. ``It was as good as anything I could probably draw up.''

Sheets will watch Atlanta's postseason run on television and has no plans to try and grab a bullpen job somewhere next year, saying only ``dude, I'm good.''

So are the 94-win Braves, who are heading into the postseason with some momentum after a stunning collapse last fall forced them to watch the playoffs on television.

Instead of swooning down the stretch this year, they've surged. Atlanta is 20-10 since Sept. 1.

``A little bit different than last year as I recall,'' Jones said. ``I think we'll look back on (last) September as a learning experience. No better example of that than the way we played this September.''

NOTES: The Pirates drew 2,091, 918 to PNC Park this season, the second-highest total in team history. The average attendance of 26,149 was up from 23,956 in 2011 ... The Braves will start RHP Kris Medlen (10-1, 1.57 ERA) Friday against Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86) ... The Pirates open the 2013 season at home on April 1 against the Chicago Cubs.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Rogers: Wednesday's Tip Sheet
Akins: Diamond Trends - Wednesday
Rose: Who's Not Hot - AL
News: Win Total Update
Dodgers outlast Padres to end skid
Athletics cruise past Mets, 6-2
Orioles beat White Sox, 'under' hits
Brewers dominate Blue Jays, 6-1
Astros top Yanks, 'over' cashes
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
10-1 L11, 17-3 +1,727 This Month
6-1 LN, 33-14 G-Plays, +9,240 TY
5-0 L5, 13-2 +1,216 MLB Streak
22-7 +2,036 Run, 11-2 G-Plays
7-1 +930 L8 G-Plays, +2,827 TY
3-0 Last Night, 18-7 L25 G-Plays
2-0 +250 LN, +2,095 This Year
12-5 L17 Guaranteed Plays
+2,431 Overall This Year
6-2 L8 G-Plays, 13-7 L20 Picks
7-3 L10 Guaranteed Plays
3-0 Yesterday, 7-1 Last 5 Days
15-3 Last 18 Guarantees
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - San Francisco Giants at Chicago Cubs
2014 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 9240
Doc's Sports + 3400
The Gold Sheet + 2827
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 2466
James Manos + 2189
Dave Cokin + 2141
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2969
Tony Stoffo + 1450
Joe Williams + 995
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Doc's Sports + 2025
Dave Cokin + 1540
Kyle Hunter + 1388
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3306
Doc's Sports + 1480
Kevin Rogers + 1373
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 2380
Kevin Rogers + 1393
Doc's Sports + 1197
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!