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MLB: Atlanta tees off on Burnett

by CHARLES ODUM AP Sports Writer on June 04, 2013 10:40 AM

ATLANTA — A.J. Burnett kept falling behind in counts, and that eventually became a big problem for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Burnett gave up three two-run homers, and manager Clint Hurdle and catcher Russell Martin were ejected during Pittsburgh’s 7-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.

Burnett (3-6) yielded a season-high six runs in five innings. He also allowed eight hits and walked three.

Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman each hit a two-run shot for Atlanta, and Kris Medlen pitched seven strong innings in his first win since April 9.

Burnett said he fell behind in too many counts, especially in the Braves’ four-run fifth.

“I was making pitches early, but that last inning I wasn’t able to make pitches,” Burnett said. “I got behind hitters. That’s a good-swinging team and you can’t get behind them. Especially throwing cookies in there when you do get behind them. It was once of those nights where I wasn’t able to get ahead later in the game.”

The three homers allowed matched Burnett’s career high. He last allowed three homers in a 6-5 loss to Tampa Bay on May 16, 2011, when he was with the New York Yankees.

McCann connected for his seventh homer in the fourth. Chris Johnson then doubled and was at second when Medlen’s two-out at-bat featured a couple of testy exchanges between umpire Dan Iassogna and the Pirates.

Burnett complained about the ball one call to Medlen, and Iassogna stepped in front of the plate to warn the pitcher.

After the second ball was called, Martin apparently complained as he took a couple of steps toward the mound with his back to the umpire. Martin was then thrown out by Iassogna, and the catcher turned to protest.

Hurdle charged from the dugout to take over the argument and also was thrown out.

Martin said he cursed after the second ball but said the profanity was not directed at Iassogna.

“I was frustrated and I got up and that’s it,” Martin said. “That’s all that happened. That’s exactly what happened. And he threw me out for that.”

Martin said he thought the quick ejection was an emotional reaction by Iassogna. Hurdle said for Martin “to get tossed walking away from the umpire, never turning his head, never saying anything, was disappointing.”

Heyward and Freeman homered during a string of four straight hits to open the fifth.

Medlen (2-6) pitched seven solid innings for his first win since April 9, ending a career-worst, five-game skid over his previous nine starts. The right-hander allowed an unearned run and seven hits, lowering his ERA to 3.14.

Medlen was 10-1 with a 1.57 ERA in 2012, when he began the season in the bullpen before moving to the rotation and posting a 9-0 record in 12 starts.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Medlen “got some run support — finally.”

Heyward, who was held out of the lineup on Sunday, had two hits. He began the day with a .142 batting average and snapped a 0-for-19 slump with his first-inning single.

Pittsburgh scored its only run against Medlen when Gaby Sanchez’s ground-rule double in the third drove in Neil Walker, who was hit by a pitch. Walker advanced to second on a throwing error by center fielder B.J. Upton.

Justin Upton singled off Mike Zagurski in the seventh, moved to third on McCann’s single and scored on Johnson’s fly ball to left field. The single was McCann’s 1,000th career hit.

The Pirates recalled right-hander Jared Hughes and selected the contract of right-hander Ryan Reid from Triple-A Indianapolis before the game.

Hughes gave up one hit in a scoreless sixth inning. Reid made his major league debut when he induced a bases-loaded grounder from pinch hitter Reed Johnson for the final out of the seventh. Reid also pitched a perfect eighth.

Clint Barmes’ double with two outs in the ninth off Braves rookie Alex Wood drove in Sanchez, who led off with a single.

NOTES: The six earned runs are the most allowed by Burnett since Aug. 16, 2012, when he also allowed six runs against the Dodgers. ... The Pirates gave OF Andrew McCutchen a day off. ... Pittsburgh RHP Jeanmar Gomez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an inflamed and strained right forearm. OF Alex Presley was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis.

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