(BaseballStL) -- Pirates Game 1 starter A.J. Burnett said he would be ready to handle Thursday’s postseason environment at Busch Stadium, but it’s doubtful that he was thinking his outing in the environment would be short-lived.
“I don't think I'll drop the ball,” Burnett said before Wednesday’s workout session. “But I've had crowds get on me before, really loud ones, so I'll be ready for anything.”
You could say he did drop the ball on Thursday -- without physically dropping it Johnny Cueto style of course.
Appearing in his fourth postseason in his 15-year career, Burnett left the third inning to a standing ovation of 45,693 fans after he failed to record an out and allowed the first eight batters to reach. More importantly for St. Louis, seven runs, including three on a Carlos Beltran 443-foot home run, had come across for a 7-0 lead off Burnett and the Buccos.
Burnett hurled 37 pitches, two more than he threw in the first two scoreless innings, in the third before Clint Hurdle pulled him in favor of right-handed reliever Jeanmar Gomez, who would retire all three Cardinals faced in the inning.
The Cardinals scoring carousel began with a leadoff walk to opposing starting pitcher Adam Wainwright on seven pitches. Matt Carpenter singled to right before Beltran sent a 92-mph sinker on a 2-1 count over the right field wall for a 3-0 lead.
Matt Holliday doubled in the next at-bat before Burnett was visited by the Pirates pitching coach. Burnett follow the mound visit by hitting Matt Adams with a pitch. Yadier Molina and Jon Jay each walked, Molina’s free pass loaded the bases and Jay’s walk brought home a run for a 4-0 lead. October hero David Freese singled down the right field line to score three more runs as Marlon Byrd’s incoming throw from right hit the Cardinals’ third baseman near first base. The ball trickled off its original path as Jay scored and Freese advanced to second.
That spelled the end of the line for Burnett. Eight batters faced in the third inning. No outs recorded. Seven runs scored.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Blues and Rams for KMOV.com and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, HockeyStL and FootballStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for St. Louis sports news and updates.