Joe Girardi is not impressed by the U.S. Open

Joe Girardi is not impressed by the U.S. Open

Yankees manager seems really mad about tennis.

 

By – August 30, 2013 at 1:38pm EDT

The Yankees had a day off in New York on Thursday, and manager Joe Girardi seized the opportunity to get away from the pressure of negotiating a playoff race with an aging and injury-riddled team plagued by scandal. The 48-year-old skipper took in some tennis at the U.S. Open, just a stress-free, chilled-out day of courtside relaxation.

(PHOTO: Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
(PHOTO: Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

From the looks of it, a few minutes into watching tennis, Joe Girardi remembered that he hates tennis, and maybe also that he somehow blames tennis for all the troubles he’s ever had in his entire life. Maybe Derek Jeter’s lower-body injuries all somehow stem from an ill-fated foray into tennis, or maybe Alex Rodriguez first met Tony Bosch in a Miami-area amateur doubles tournament.

Or maybe Girardi’s so exhausted from putting on a brave face and maintaining a cool attitude around his team all season that on the rare occasion he lets his proverbial hair down, the long-festering rage within spews forward.

Kurt Suzuki homers in return to Oakland as A’s top Rays

 

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Fan favorite Kurt Suzuki greeted his old fans with a three-run homer in his first game back at the Coliseum with Oakland since being traded away last August, Jed Lowrie hit a go-ahead double in the eighth, and the Athletics beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.

Lowrie extended his hitting streak to 12 games with his Oakland-record 13th double in August, off Joel Peralta. James Loney had tied it with a double in the top half for Tampa Bay.

Jarrod Parker dueled with David Price to run his unbeaten streak to 17 straight starts, matching Catfish Hunter’s Oakland record set from June 2-Sept. 3, 1973. The A’s pulled within two games of the first-place Texas Rangers in the AL West, and moved ahead of Tampa Bay in the wild card.

BOX SCORE: A’s 4, Rays 3

Price (8-6) lost for the first time in nine starts since July 12 against Houston.

Parker came out for the eighth at 100 pitches, but gave way to winner Ryan Cook (6-3) after allowing the first two hitters to reach. Grant Balfour pitched the ninth for his 34th save in 36 chances, leaving the tying run aboard.

Oakland beat the Rays for the first time after being swept in Florida from April 19-21. Tampa Bay outscored the reigning AL West champions 17-4 in that series.

With the Bay Bridge closed all weekend, the Rays’ team bus left San Francisco at 2 p.m. Friday and didn’t arrive to the Coliseum until 3:45. Price opted to take a cab before his start Friday, and it cost him a whopping $202, then tweeted he would take a helicopter Saturday.

Manager Joe Maddon plans to take the BART train Saturday.

Friday got stranger for the Rays when reliever Fernando Rodney briefly got stuck in the dugout bathroom during the game.

For Suzuki, rejoining the A’s for a pennant race has worked out well so far. He was cheered at every chance despite his light pregame remarks that he expected “a bunch of boos.”

Yunel Escobar hit an RBI single and Matt Joyce a sacrifice fly as the Rays kicked off a stretch with 13 of 16 games on the road.

Second baseman Ben Zobrist had his Rays record 81-game errorless streak end on a wild throw in the fifth. His previous error came May 11 against San Diego.

The Rays ended a 14-inning stretch without a run when they scored in the second, but they are 0-for California in four tries this year after dropping three at Dodger Stadium.

NOTES:

The Rays recalled RHP Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham and optioned RHP Jake Odorizzi to Double-A Montgomery. … A’s C Derek Norris, on the disabled list since Aug. 21 with a fractured left big toe, is set to join Triple-A Sacramento at Tacoma on Saturday for a three-game rehab assignment. He is eligible to come off the DL on Sept. 5. … Oakland RF Josh Reddick received an injection in his sprained right wrist Wednesday and is now using a splint. “We hope that does the trick,” manager Bob Melvin said. … Rays LHP Matt Moore (left elbow soreness) allowed eight hits and four earned runs in four innings of his first rehab outing Thursday night for Triple-A Durham at Gwinnett (Ga.) He is set to start in Anaheim either Tuesday or Wednesday and expects to have a pitch count of 90-100. “I’m happy how my arm felt,” Moore said. “I’m warming up a little slower with my changeup. It really felt good to get back out there.”… Maddon is yet to announce his Sunday starter, but did say likely Sunday additions that day will be: OF Delmon Young, DH Luke Scott, and C Chris Gimenez.

 

 

Nationals’ Davey Johnson to talk to Bryce Harper

Nationals’ Davey Johnson to talk to Bryce Harper

        AP     8:31 p.m. EDT August 31, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington manager Davey Johnson is planning to talk to Bryce Harper after the outfielder failed to run out a ground ball to second during Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Mets.

Johnson said Harper’s health could be a factor, with the 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick possibly headed for offseason left knee surgery.

“My opinion is you take nothing for granted,” Johnson said before Saturday night’s game against New York. “You hit a ground ball, the guy could boot it, you run. Anytime you don’t go hard, it’s a losing attitude.

FRIDAY BOX SCORE: Mets 3, Nationals 2

“With him, I’m in between knowing if he’s babying his knee, because he’s usually 100 percent in. But I’ll talk to him.”

Harper injured his left knee in May when he crashed into the fence at Dodger Stadium while chasing a fly ball. He eventually missed 31 games due to bursitis.

“I think it’s still an issue,” Johnson said. “I think he can probably play with it, but if he headfirst slides or dives in the outfield it’s probably going to flare up. But hopefully we can get through the season.”

When asked about Harper potentially having minor surgery in the offseason to remove a bursa sac, Johnson said it’s an option and any decision would be made by Harper and team medical director Dr. Wiemi Douguih.

With two out in the eighth inning Friday night and runners on first and second, Harper hit a grounder to second on a 3-1 pitch. Daniel Murphy bobbled the ball but was able to take his time on the play because Harper didn’t hustle over to first.

Bench coach Randy Knorr, who was in charge for most of the game after Johnson left the dugout in the fourth inning due to dehydration, wasn’t happy to see the youngster jogging to first on the grounder.

“The thing about Bryce right now, it’s tough,” Knorr said. “He gets frustrated. I don’t think he does it intentionally, but he’s going to have to start picking it up a little bit because we’ve got everybody else doing it. And he gets frustrated at times and it just comes out in him.

“It’s something that we’ve got to fix. … He’s got a lot going on. It’s hard for me to say; I’m not 20 years old in the big leagues with stuff going on around me. It’s something we’ve got to get to the bottom of, and keep talking to him because eventually we’re just going to have to take him out of the game.”

Told what Knorr said about the play, Harper replied: “I’ll guess I learn from it.”

Johnson was asked if Harper not hustling was something he had discussed with his left fielder previously.

“I haven’t seen a lot of it,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen a little of it. … But I don’t know what’s going through his mind. I’ll have a conversation with him.”

PHOTOS: BRYCE HARPER, BASEBALL’S CHOSEN ONE

 

Bryce Harper, who was activated from the 15-day DL on July 1, hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Brewers.

Trapped In The Water Closet, Featuring Fernando Rodney

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Fernando Rodney had himself a bit of an adventure in the dugout bathroom at O.co Coliseum last night. It’s unclear what exactly caused it, but the Rays closer found the exit blocked and required the introduction of a foreign object before he was finally free.

Rodney did not enter the game as Oakland took the lead a short time after he was pried out of the toilet and the Rays could not mount a comeback. Maybe it really is time for a new stadium out in Oakland.

Yankees September call ups update: Murphy, Marshall, Adams, Cabral, Mesa

Yankees September call ups update: Murphy, Marshall, Adams, Cabral, Mesa

By               @Jason00Cohen                 on Aug 31 2013, 6:26p

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September call ups are tomorrow, but there’s still news going around about a few players who may or may not be getting a promotion on the first of September.

It seems that Melky Mesa will not be getting a call up this season as his hamstring injury has been deemed to severe for him to recover in time. He would have primarily been used as a pinch runner or pinch hitter, so it’s not a huge loss to the team, but it is a big loss for Mesa. The 26-year-old outfielder struck out 112 times (33.7 K%) with a sub-.300 OBP at Triple-A this season. In five games and 14 at-bats in the majors he hit .385/.429/.538, and it would be nice to see how close he can stay in that range.

The Yankees are planning to call up Brett Marshall tomorrow, despite his lackluster performance this season. He has a 5.13 ERA and 4.62 FIP with a 4.41 walk rate in 138.2 innings in Scranton. He was called up for a spot start earlier in the season and gave up five runs on nine hits and five walks in 5.2 innings. He will likely provide extra depth for mop up innings and blowouts.

JR Murphy will also be called up after being left out of tonight’s lineup. There will need to be a 40-man roster spot opened up before he is brought up, so Jayson Nix could be moved to the 60-day DL. He hit .268/.352/.421 in Double-A before he was promoted to Triple-A and hit .270/.342/.430. Murphy will only serve as the third-string catcher to add some depth behind the plate. He’d probably be a better option than Chris Stewart or Austin Romine, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll get much playing time, if any at all.

David Adams will also be getting a call up to provide third base and second base depth. Preston Claiborne and Dellin Betances are also likely to get promotions to bolster the bullpen.

Update

Chris Cotillo is now reporting that lefty Cesar Cabral is likely on his way up to New York as well. Cabral gained some notice in Spring Training 2012 for decent numbers before a stress fracture ended his season before it began. In his first full healthy season with the organization this year, Cabral has spent time in Tampa, Trenton, and Scranton with inconsistent numbers, but for what it’s worth, he has held Triple-A lefties to a .200/.310/.360 triple slash in 29 plate appearances. (Of course, he was oddly not as good against them at the other levels despite better ERA numbers.)

Cabral has had control problems, but he has struck out 10.6 men per nine innings across 36 2/3 minor league innings this year. He’s the classic “second lefty” that Girardi likes to deploy, but whether or not the 24-year-old can actually be effective is anyone’s guess. Cabral will need a 40-man spot to be added to the roster, so Travis Hafner could join Nix on the 60-day DL.

A-STIFF’s ups and downs as a Yankee

A-Rod’s ups and downs as a Yankee

August 5, 2013 4:49 PM

Alex Rodriguez’s time with the Yankees has had some very high  peaks and some low valleys. Here is a timeline of A-Rod’s career with the Yankees.

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FEB. 15, 2004 | ALEX RODRIGUEZ TRADED TO YANKEES After a failed deal between Texas and Boston to trade A-Rod, the Yankees swooped in. The Rangers wanted out of the most expensive contract in baseball history. Aaron Boone suffered an offseason knee injury, and the Yankees traded Alfonso Soriano for A-Rod. With the trade, A-Rod moved from shortstop to third base and changed his number from 3 to 13. In his first year. A-Rod batted .286 with 36 homers and 106 RBIs.

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APRIL 26, 2005 | 3 HOME RUNS, 10 RBIs The 2005 season was more along the lines of what Yankees fans wanted from A-Rod. He got off to a quick start in April, highlighted by this night against Angels pitcher Bartolo Colón. A-Rod finished the season with a .321 average, 48 homers and 130 RBIs. It was his first MVP award with the Yanks and second of his career.

A-ROID INJURY HISTORY

Alex Rodriguez injury history

Just how often has Alex Rodriguez been injured during his 19-year career with the Yankees, Rangers and Mariners?

A-ROD’S AILMENTS

The injuries continue to pile on for aging Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Click a point on his body on the left to learn more about his injury history while playing for the Mariners, Rangers and Yankees since 1994.

Born: July 27, 1975 Birthplace: New York City Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 225 Position: Third base/shortstop High school: Westminster Christian (Miami, Fla.) Draft: No. 1 overall pick by Seattle Mariners in 1993 How Yankees acquired: Trade with Texas on Feb. 16, 2004 Status: Signed through 2017;  $114 million left.
YEAR G AB R H HR RBI AVG
2012 122 463 74 126 18 57 .272
2011 99 373 67 103 16 62 .276
2010 137 522 74 141 30 125 .270
Links Career profile | Home run history

Alex Rodriguez almost impossible to ignore as MLB’s one-man reality show

Alex Rodriguez almost impossible to ignore as MLB’s one-man reality show

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                    Everyone seems to want to talk with, or about, Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez this season.                                             (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Andy McCullough/The Star-Ledger By Andy McCullough/The Star-Ledger The Star-Ledger Follow on Twitter on August 30, 2013 at  5:03 AM, updated August 30, 2013 at  8:34 AM

                

              

Yankee Stadium. Thursday, Aug. 22, 8:40 p.m.

The man makes the mundane seem memorable.

“Small bites,” he is saying to the crowd around his locker. What he means is: The Yankees must focus on the day-to-day in order to make up the ground lost during a summer spent without him.

“Every game is precious,” Alex Rodriguez says.

As this season winds into its final month, each moment with Rodriguez feels the same way. A 211-game suspension still hangs over his head, a sentence that could either be drastically reduced — or effectively end his career. Each at-bat is an event.

But to see him here, inside his own clubhouse, the only player in the room, is to see him at what passes for peace. Earlier this week, after his legal team launched incendiary charges against both the Yankees and Major League Baseball, which prompted a vigorous series of countermeasures from both parties, Rodriguez stepped in. He says he told his representatives to stand down. The focus should be on baseball. He maintains that stance.

Four days earlier, Ryan Dempster hit Rodriguez with a fastball. The Yankees thought he did so on purpose, and the ramifications of this action were still being felt. Red Sox leader David Ortiz suggested Dempster “woke up a monster” in the Bronx. Asked about this, Rodriguez declines to speculate.

“For me, I’m just laser-focused on the mission at hand,” Rodriguez says. “And that’s a big three-game series against Tampa. See you guys there.”

Rodriguez parts the crowd and exits. He will go 6-for-21 on this trip, with a pair of homers and three RBI. He will show signs of fatigue; he will show signs of revival. The peace he requested followed him. There were no spats. No pitchers threw at him.

Yet even as a 2-4 trip further sank the Yankees’ slim October hopes, Rodriguez remains a source of fascination. He infuriates his employers. He puzzles some of his own teammates. Opponents laugh at the sideshow, yet marvel at his talent. Which is why each moment is so precious.

Tropicana Field, Friday, 3:45 p.m.

He lopes into the visitors’ clubhouse with a smile on his face and a plastic cup filled with green tea in his hand. When reporters are present, Rodriguez makes himself scarce. During this trip, he will conduct just two group interviews, both on Tuesday, a pre-game discussion about his 650th homer, and a post-game discussion about his 651st.

But he appears buoyant upon arrival, energized by his team’s opportunity, walking in without the headphones that often cover his ears like white seashells. He sidles over to greet Mariano Rivera. He shouts “What up, Mick?” to first-base coach Mick Kelleher. Someone remarks on the neon yellow laces inside his Nikes.

“I’m from Miami,” he says with a grin. “I’ve got to turn it up a notch.”

Saturday, 10:13 p.m. Tropicana Field is a riotous cauldron of kitsch. Clattering cowbells echo off the roof. Multi-colored lights flicker on the catwalks high above the diamond. On the stadium scoreboard, a tuxedo cat masquerades as a D.J. and a French bulldog barks out strikeouts. Video clips show David Hasselhoff crooning and Mr. T grumble-rapping.

The maelstrom simplifies into disgust when Rodriguez steps to the plate in the ninth inning. Fernando Rodney stands on the mound. He blazes a 97-mph fastball toward the inside corner of the plate, the sort of pitch that flummoxed Rodriguez in the second half of 2012. Righties in general “were pretty much eating him up” that season, hitting coach Kevin Long will say a few days later.

Rodriguez must prove to opposing pitchers that he can handle these inside fastballs, Long says. Rodriguez will do just that on Tuesday night, smoking an inside fastball, also 97 mph, for a single off Toronto reliever Neil Wagner. Long considers this an excellent sign.

“It just lets pitchers know that they better execute the pitch,” he says. “And if they want to go there, they better take their chances.”

Rodney takes his chance. Late to make contact, Rodriguez can only roll a grounder over to the second baseman. The noise chases him into the dugout.

Sunday, 11:53 a.m.

In the morning, Joe Girardi often exchanges text messages with Rodriguez. Girardi likes to check on his condition, and utilizes the information when crafting his lineup. He grants Derek Jeter similar treatment. But on days like this, he does not require communication.

Rodriguez spent the past two nights in the field. He went 1-for-8. Trying to scoop a sizzling grounder on Saturday, he crumpled to the ground as the ball shot past him. Girardi did not write his name into the lineup.

“Sometimes, you just make decisions because you think it’s the right thing to do,” he says. “Because guys are going to want to be out there. But sometimes putting them out there becomes counter-productive over a long period of time.”

Rodriguez will pinch-hit later in the day, rapping a single before getting doubled off second. When the clubhouse opens after the game, his belongings have already been packed up.

If 35,000 people come out here just to boo you, you’ve done something right.” — Opposing player talking about Alex Rodriguez

Rogers Centre. Monday, 3:55 p.m.

Lyle Overbay reaches into his locker for a piece of paper. He spent five seasons in Toronto, but discovered the ferocity of the fan base after he departed. “Oh, they hate me here,” he says, his eyes conveying both amusement and confusion.

The piece of paper is his ticket to obscurity. It is the Yankees lineup.

“I’m batting behind him today,” Overbay says. “They won’t even hear my name.”

Monday, 8:17 p.m.

Entire patches of the upper deck here are empty, but Rodriguez endures his usual greeting at the plate. The park is humming when R.A. Dickey throws his second pitch of Rodriguez’s second at-bat. It is a 79-mph knuckleball, darting back over the plate. Rodriguez powers a drive deep to right field, an opposite-field blast on an offspeed pitch.

Upon impact, Rodriguez pauses for just a moment, then jogs to first. His pace is brisk. His face reveals nothing. It is the 650th home run of his career. The Yankees once expected to celebrate these milestones, and included in his contract a series of marketing bonuses for them. When Rodriguez ties Willie Mays at 660, he will earn $6 million.

The next afternoon, Girardi fields questions about why Rodriguez’s latest achievement received such little fanfare.

Tuesday, 9:03 p.m.

The voice emerges from a mostly quiet stadium. The Yankees already lead by six runs, and all thoughts are locked onto the bruised right hand of Robinson Cano. Years ago, a potential injury to Rodriguez would be considered a similar catastrophe. But now a lone voice can be heard taunting him.

“Swing now!” the man shouts. “Swing now, A-Rod!”

Earlier in this at-bat, Rodriguez swung through a 94-mph fastball from Esmil Rogers and fouled off another. Perhaps the man is hinting at Rodriguez’s diminished bat speed. Or perhaps he just wants something nonsensical to scream.

Either way, when Rogers opts for a 1-2 curveball, Rodriguez times his attack with precision. The result is remarkable, a soaring parabola into the first deck behind the center field wall.

There are two things worth remembering about Alex Rodriguez. Yes, he is 38, with a pair of surgically repaired hips and a body creaking from the strain of two decades in the game. But Long mentions the other factor the next afternoon.

“It’s still Alex Rodriguez,” Long says. “At the end of the day, his numbers speak for themselves.”

Wednesday, 8:26 p.m.

But, of course, his body has limitations. The Yankees receive a reminder the next night. It comes as Rodriguez attempts to score from first base on a double by Mark Reynolds. He chugs the requisite 180 feet to third, and barrels homeward guided by the waving arm of third-base coach Rob Thomson.

The play at the plate is not particularly close. A relay cuts him down as he slides. In the dirt, Rodriguez unwinds both legs in front of him and leans forward to stretch. He pulls himself up, claps both hands and leaves.

Later that night, Girardi defends the move. But Thomson blames himself for poor positioning on the play. “It was a bad decision,” he tells the New York Post.

Wednesday, 9:53 p.m.

The trip ends in three outs. Rodriguez represents the first. This trip was a dud. The Yankees trail by five runs, their playoff probability is shrinking and the mood afterward will be somber.

There is nothing Rodriguez can do to alter this, not with one swing. He strikes out against Darren Oliver, a fellow veteran of 20 seasons. Rodriguez first faced Oliver in June 29, 1996, another lifetime ago. Back then, the focus really was on baseball.

A few fans behind the dugout wave farewell as Rodriguez leaves. Another stands to snap a photograph. The volume in the park lowers. The show is over.

“Let me tell you something,” one opposing player said earlier in the week. “If 35,000 people come out here just to boo you, you’ve done something right.”

Alex Rodriguez’s appeal set to begin this week

Alex Rodriguez’s appeal set to begin this week

Published: August 31, 2013 8:45 PM             By STEVEN MARCUS         steven.marcus@newsday.com

Alex Rodriguez is seen on the field during

Photo credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke |      Alex Rodriguez is seen on the field during batting practice before a game against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. (Aug. 13, 2013)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alex Rodriguez’s appeal of the 211-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball will begin its preliminary phase this week with a status conference scheduled to take place between MLB officials, Rodriguez’s legal team and arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, a person familiar with the meeting said Saturday.

Rodriguez was suspended in connection with MLB’s probe of performance-enhancing drugs distributed by the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic.

The gathering, which is expected to be held Wednesday at an undisclosed location, the source said, will center on issues relating to discovery and the setting of dates for the actual hearing. The source said the hearing is not expected to take place until after the baseball season, perhaps not until November or December.



A-ROD: Faces of A-Rod | A-Rod covers | A-Rod in NY | More

PEDS AND MLB: Tainted MLB players | Notable MLB suspensions



A spokesman for MLB said on Saturday that there would be no comment on arbitration dates. Rodriguez is expected to appear before the arbitrator at some point during the process.

Rodriguez, who returned to action Aug. 5 after rehabbing his surgically repaired left hip — the day the suspension was announced — will be permitted to play until the arbitrator makes his ruling. Horowitz could uphold the suspension, overturn it or reduce the number of games he has to sit out.

Pirates beat Cardinals 7-1 to take NL Central lead

Pirates beat Cardinals 7-1 to take NL Central lead

 

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals in Pittsburgh Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Associated Press

WILL GRAVES                                 9 minutes ago                                                      Pittsburgh PiratesJustin Morneau

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A.J. Burnett scattered four hits over seven innings, Russell Martin hit a three-run homer and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 on Saturday night to regain sole possession of the NL Central lead.

Neil Walker added three hits for the Pirates, who improved to 79-56 and moved within three victories of their first winning season since 1992.

Burnett (7-9) gave up one run while striking out six and walking one. He received plenty of offensive help only hours after Pittsburgh acquired first baseman Justin Morneau from the Minnesota Twins.

Morneau arrived in the Pirates’ dugout in the sixth inning. By then Pittsburgh had things well in hand. Martin keyed a five-run second with his drive off Lance Lynn (13-9).

The trade for Morneau marked the second big move by the Pirates in five days as they try to beat out St. Louis and Cincinnati in baseball’s tightest division race. Pittsburgh brought in Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the New York Mets on Tuesday.

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Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin hits a three-run …

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Russell Martin hits a three-run home run off St. Louis Cardinals starting pitche …

Byrd homered in his Pirates debut on Wednesday. Morneau won’t get a chance until Sunday at the earliest. Manager Clint Hurdle hoped Morneau would be available on Saturday night if needed. Hardly necessary after Pittsburgh jumped on Lynn early.

The right-hander has struggled since winning his 13th game of the season in a romp over Cincinnati four weeks ago. He dropped his fourth straight decision Saturday when he could do little to harness an offense that is starting to heat up heading into September.

Pittsburgh ranks 10th in the NL in runs scored, one of the main reasons general manager Neal Huntington aggressively pursued Morneau. But the Pirates are averaging 5.2 runs per game during their current six-game homestand and Morneau’s addition gives Pittsburgh another proven bat to join MVP contender Andrew McCutchen and slugging third baseman Pedro Alvarez.

For a night, however, it wasn’t McCutchen or Alvarez but role players who provided the pop.

Burnett got Pittsburgh started with an RBI single in the second and Jose Tabata followed with one of his own to stake the Pirates to a 2-0 lead. It could have been worse after Lynn loaded the bases before striking out McCutchen to get out of the jam.

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Pittsburgh Pirates' Russell Martin (55) celebrates …

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Russell Martin (55) celebrates with Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Bur …

Lynn wasn’t so fortunate one inning later. Alvarez led off with a double, Byrd singled him home and Garrett Jones walked. Martin stepped in and sent a fastball into the front row of seats in right-center for his second homer in two nights to give Pittsburgh a 6-1 lead. Walker added an RBI triple later in the inning.

While Lynn managed to stay in the game, he left after four innings following a miserable start in which he gave up seven runs on 10 hits with three walks and four strikeouts. His ERA rose to 4.29.

The deficit proved far too large for a suddenly reeling offense. The Cardinals lead the NL in batting average and runs but have scored just once in their last three games.

Burnett’s control had something to do with it in front of the second-largest crowd in the 12-year history of PNC Park. Working both sides of the plate effectively, Burnett assured Pittsburgh heads into the final month of a remarkable season in first place for the first time since it won the NL East in 1992.

NOTES: Reliever John Axford, acquired on Friday from Milwaukee, pitched a perfect seventh in his Cardinals debut. … The Pirates have outhomered St. Louis 18-3 in 15 meetings this season. … St. Louis SS Pete Kozma grounded out while pinch-hitting for Lynn and is hitless in his last 29 at-bats. … The series concludes Sunday. Joe Kelly (6-3, 2.91 ERA) starts for St. Louis against Kris Johnson (0-1, 3.00). … The Cardinals have not settled on a starter for Tuesday in Cincinnati. Michael Wacha, Carlos Martinez and Tyler Lyons are all under consideration.

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Pittsburgh Pirates' Justin Morneau sits in the dugout …

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Justin Morneau sits in the dugout after arriving in Pittsburgh during a baseball …