Pittsburgh Through the first five innings on Sunday, the Kansas City Royals couldn’t get a hit.
During the final four innings, they just couldn’t get a hit when it mattered.
The Royals’ struggles with runners in scoring position continued, and it led to another loss. The Pittsburgh Pirates finished off a sweep with a 3-2 win on Sunday.
Kansas City went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position Sunday to cap a series in which they had four hits in 29 such situations.
“We’re not getting it done,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Make up all the excuses you want. We’ve just got to get hits with runners in scoring position. I’m done with making excuses. It’s a hard game — there’s nothing easy about it. They will drive in runs. They’re just not doing it right now.”
Andrew McCutchen homered and drove in three runs and A.J. Burnett won his fifth consecutive start for Pittsburgh, which finished their first sweep of an AL team in more than a decade.
Alex Gordon and Alicedes Escobar each had two hits for the Royals, who have lost four in a row and six of eight.
Burnett (6-2) had a no-hitter through 5 1-3 innings until Gordon singled with one out in the sixth. He did not allow a baserunner until Eric Hosmer drew a two-out walk in the fourth or a run until Escobar’s two-out RBI double in the seventh.
But despite 10 baserunners over the final five innings, the Royals managed only two runs. Gordon scored when Hosmer hit into a fielder’s choice in the eighth.
Kansas City left two men on at the end of each of the final three innings.
“Those are opportunities when we crawl back in, we need to get big hits,” outfielder Mitch Maier said. “We had chances there. ... That’s a time that we needed to capitalize and get those big knocks. Obviously, that’s the key to this game. That’s how you win and lose games. And we weren’t able to do it this weekend.”
McCutchen hit an RBI double in the first inning and hit a two-run homer in the third, giving the Pirates enough offense to win their fourth in a row despite having only three hits from all their other players.
“The fact that McCutchen was the one who hurt us, that’s the fact I’m very concerned about,” Kansas City catcher Brayan Pena said.
McCutchen has feasted on left-handers, improving his average to .463 against them after two hits in his first two at bats against Bruce Chen.
This was the 50th interleague series the Pirates had played since taking three in a row from the Cleveland Indians on June 15-17, 2001.
Since May 25, the Pirates have the best record in the majors at 12-3.
“This weekend was outstanding,” Burnett said. “We are playing good ball now and we are hitting on a couple of cylinders and it’s fun to watch.”
Burnett was charged with two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 71⁄3 innings. Pittsburgh has won his past seven starts.
Burnett had a streak of 20 consecutive innings without an earned run at PNC Park snapped in the seventh. He is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA at home this season.
“He had good tempo and good rhythm today on a hot day, and he was really efficient with things,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.