A.J. Burnett knows what it takes to reach the pinnacle of the baseball world, having won 13 games in 2009 to help the New York Yankees capture the World Series title. Burnett takes the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday at home against the San Diego Padres, and his team needs the 15-year veteran to deliver. Burnett sports a 9.64 ERA in two September starts for the Pirates, who are tied with St. Louis atop the National League Central and are in pursuit of their first postseason appearance in 21 years.
The Padres have won eight of their past 12 games, and Chase Headley is swinging the hottest bat in San Diego’s lineup. The third baseman is hitting .363 with three homers, seven RBIs and five runs scored through six games of San Diego’s current 10-game road trip, homering in each of the three games in Atlanta last weekend. Headley has hit safely in 18 of his past 21 contests and 26 of his past 33, dating back to July 31.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, Fox Sports San Diego (San Diego), Root Sports (Pittsburgh)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Padres RH Andrew Cashner (9-8, 3.40 ERA) vs. Pirates RH A.J. Burnett (8-10, 3.45)
Cashner beat the Phillies on Tuesday, allowing two runs on four hits in 7 2/3 innings to continue his strong pitching of late. He has allowed a total of four earned runs in his past four starts (28 2/3 innings), but is 1-1 with two no-decisions as the Padres scored three runs or less in three of those outings. The 27-year-old is holding opponents to a .217 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Burnett has allowed 10 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings this month, losing to the Cardinals on Sept. 6 before rebounding to beat Texas on Wednesday. He allowed five runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings against the Rangers, winning for the third time in five starts. The 36-year-old beat Colorado with a one-run complete game on Aug. 4, but has posted a 5.75 ERA in seven starts since.
1. The Padres won two out of three at Atlanta, just their fifth road series victory of the season.
2. Pittsburgh has 28 one-run victories this season, the latest a 3-2 triumph Sunday over the Cubs.
3. San Diego OF Mark Kotsay, a 17-year veteran, has announced he will retire at season’s end.
PREDICTION: Pirates 3, Padres 2