PITTSBURGH --A.J. Burnett took the loss in what could be the final game of his 17-year career as the Pirates dropped a 3-1 decision to the lowly Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night at PNC Park.
Burnett allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out nine and walking four.
He fell behind 2-0 in the first inning when Joey Votto drove in a run with a groundout and Todd Frazier hit an RBI double. One of the runs was unearned because Burnett made an error on a wild pickoff throw.
Burnett plans to retire at the end of the season and is lined up to start Game 3 if the Pirates make it to the National League Division Series to face the St. Louis Cardinals. However, they must first beat the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night in the winner-take-all NL wild card game.
The Pirates managed just four hits, two by Josh Harrison.
The Reds snapped a 13-game losing streak, their longest since 1945.
Reds rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan (5-3) allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings and Aroldis Chapman got the final four outs for his 33rd save.
Down 3-1 with one out in the ninth inning, the Pirates got a runner on when Starling Marte was hit by a pitch but Chapman stuck out Michael Morse and got Francisco Cervelli to fly out to end the game.
STAR OF THE GAME
Finnegan held the Pirates in check as he had six strikeouts and two walks.
3. Burnett has not allowed more than three runs in any of his five starts since coming off the disabled list Sept. 10. He missed nearly six weeks with a strained flexor tendon in his right elbow.
- Right-hander Gerrit Cole was officially announced as the starter for the wild card game, to the surprise of no one. Cole went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA in 32 starts this season, including 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in four starts against the Cubs. Major league wins leader Jake Arrieta (22-6, 1.77) will start for the Cubs.
- Center fielder Andrew McCutchen’s four-game hitting streak ended as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.
- Burnett was presented with a miniature Batmobile by his agent, Derek Braunecker, prior to Saturday’s game. The right-hander is a huge fan of Batman, the movie and comic book character.
- The Pirates set a franchise single-season attendance record for a second straight season as Saturday night’s 34,180 tickets sold pushed the total to 2,463,234. Last year’s total was 2,442,564.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“It’s special. it’s trust, it’s acknowledgement for the hard work that you put in to put yourself in that position.” -- Cole on being picked to start the wild card game.
Pirates left-hander J.A. Happ (10-8, 3.74) faces Reds rookie right-hander Josh Smith (0-3, 7.22) in the regular-season finale at 3:05 p.m. Sunday at PNC Park.
Happ is 6-2 with a 2.04 ERA in 10 starts since being acquired July 31 from the Seattle Mariners in a trade. He is 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA against the Reds in seven career starts.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto is 8-for-19 (.421) with four doubles off Happ while second baseman Brandon Phillips is 7-for-17 (.412) with two doubles and three homers. However, right fielder Jay Bruce is 2-for-13 (.154) with seven strikeouts.
Smith will be looking for his first career win in his seventh start. He is 0-0 with a 7.20 ERA against the Pirates in two games, including one start.