CHICAGO – Alfonso Soriano prevented the Cubs from getting shut out by Pittsburgh for the second straight day. His home run in the ninth inning was about the only dent they made against A.J. Burnett and the Pirates.
Burnett pitched into the ninth, Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin homered and Pittsburgh beat the Cubs, 6-2, Saturday.
“We didn’t have a whole lot going on for the most part,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.
Pittsburgh beat the Cubs for the fifth straight time and handed the Cubs their fifth loss in the last six games overall.
Burnett (4-6) allowed three walks with five strikeouts in 81/3 innings to improve to 5-0 in his career at Wrigley Field. He blanked the Cubs until Soriano’s two-run homer to left with one out in the ninth ended a string of 18 straight scoreless innings by Pirates pitchers.
“I go back a long way with Sori. We played a long time together. I’ve gotten him a few times, he’s gotten me,” Burnett said.
Soriano’s homer was the 379th of his career, tying him with Orlando Cepeda and Tony Perez for 64th on the all-time list.
“Especially [since] we got shut out yesterday, I don’t want it to happen today again,” Soriano said. “At least he didn’t throw a shutout.”
Soriano might have done even more damage except for some tough luck with the Pirates’ defense.
Soriano flied out deep in the second inning, with right fielder Travis Snider banging into the wall as he made the catch.
Then in the sixth inning with runners on second and third and two out, Soriano hit a shot down the third-base line. Alvarez made a diving, backhanded stop and threw out Soriano.
Burnett held the Cubs hitless until Nate Schierholtz’s double down the line in right leading off the fifth. He threw 112 pitches and left after Soriano’s home run.
Burnett threw a one-hitter in his last start at Wrigley Field last July 31. He lost the no-hitter in the eighth inning with two outs. Over his last 23 innings at Wrigley, Burnett has allowed two runs and seven hits.
Scuffling the most at the plate for the Cubs has been shortstop Starlin Castro, who was recently dropped from No. 2 in the order to seventh. He went 0 for 3 and has three hits his last 34 at-bats.
“Obviously he didn’t get any hits again, but he lined the ball into right-center field. Hit that ball really well,” Sveum said. “Lined another ball into right. Hopefully something starts clicking and he gets going.”
The Pirates tagged Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija (3-7) for eight hits, including Alvarez’s two-run homer in the fourth, his team-high 13th of the year. The right-hander struck out seven and walked one in six innings.
Martin’s homer, a two-run shot in the eighth off reliever Hector Rondon, was the 100th of his career.
The Pirates jumped on Samardzija for a run in the second on Garrett Jones’ double and Alvarez’s one-out single. Pittsburgh added a run in the third when Starling Marte ended a streak of 14 hitless at-bats with a single, stole second and came in on Snider’s single.
Alvarez homered to right field after Martin led off with a walk in the fourth to increase the Pirates’ lead to 4-0.
In the eighth, Martin sent a 3-2 pitch by Rondon into the seats in left for a two-out homer after Andrew McCutchen had drawn a walk.
Notes: Pittsburgh RHP Jeff Karstens, on the disabled list since March 26 with a shoulder inflammation, had surgery Friday on his right rotator cuff and labrum in Los Angeles. He’ll be able to begin a rehab process in 10 to 12 weeks. ... Sunday’s pitchers: Pittsburgh LHP Jeff Locke (5-1, 2.45) vs. RHP Edwin Jackson (1-8, 6.29).