Saturday, June 21, 2014
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Burnett leads Phillies over Cardinals

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[June 21, 2014]  ST. LOUIS -- A.J. Burnett says it's time for people to get excited about the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Even when we were down, the guys never quit and kept working hard," he said. "We're starting to see the results."

Burnett scattered seven hits in his first complete game of the year Friday night, as Philadelphia extended its season-best winning streak to five games with a 5-1 dumping of the St. Louis Cardinals at sold-out Busch Stadium.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins stretched his hitting streak to 14 games with a tie-breaking ground-rule double in the top of the fifth and finished with two RBIs, while center fielder John Mayberry went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI.

But it was Burnett (5-6) who set the tone by getting early outs, inducing a spate of harmless grounders from the suddenly-slumping St. Louis attack. He got his first 12 outs via ground balls and finished with 17.

Although he fanned only three, Burnett walked just one and was content to pitch to contact. He even showcased a rarely-seen changeup, employing it more often at the urging of catcher Carlos Ruiz.

"I felt like I was within myself more," Burnett said. "The changeup's a good pitch when it's on. I was down in the zone, pounding strikes."

Burnett retired 13 of the last 14 men he faced and obtained nine outs on first or second pitches. Manager Ryne Sandberg never had to warm up the bullpen in the ninth as Burnett worked a 1-2-3 inning on just 10 pitches.

"He held his stuff good at the end," Sandberg said. "With a lead, he really attacked the hitters. It was his best job of staying down in the zone this year. Other than a couple of hit batters, he had real good command."

Jaime Garcia (3-1) matched Burnett for four innings, taking a 1-0 lead to the fifth, thanks to a two-out RBI single by left fielder Matt Holliday in the third.

But Garcia seemed to lose it all at once in the fifth, giving up three doubles to the first four batters. That included Burnett's RBI double that short-hopped the center field wall, and Rollins' double, which got under the glove of third baseman Matt Carpenter and was touched by a fan reaching over the rail, allowing Burnett to trot home.

Garcia went back out for the sixth, but was pulled after allowing a leadoff homer to right fielder Marlon Byrd and another ground-rule double to left fielder Domonic Brown.

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"I wasn't able to execute pitches," Garcia said of the fifth and sixth innings. "Things changed a bit."

Reliever Seth Maness came in and coughed up a run-producing single to Mayberry, then gave up a sacrifice fly to Rollins later in the inning to wrap up the scoring. That was more than St. Louis (39-35) could overcome with an offense that's tallied just four runs in a three-game losing streak, rapping into seven double plays.

In five-plus innings, Garcia permitted seven hits and four runs with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Burnett notched the 24th complete game of his career and kept the Phillies within 3 1/2 games of first-place Atlanta in the National League East.

"We are 100 percent feeding off each other," he said.

NOTES: St. Louis LHP Kevin Siegrist was able to throw off flat ground Friday from distances as far as 120 feet. On the disabled list since May 24 with a left forearm strain, Siegrist is unsure when he would throw off a mound again. ... Philadelphia activated 3B Cory Asche (left hamstring strain) off the DL and put Reid Brignac (left ankle sprain) there. Asche got the start at third, batting eighth. ... Cardinals third-round pick Trevor Megill, a right-handed pitcher from Loyola Marymount, told the organization that he will return to school for his senior season. Megill, who missed his junior year while recovering from Tommy John surgery, felt the team wasn't offering him a big enough signing bonus.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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