PITTSBURGH — Andrew McCutchen homered and drove in three runs, A.J. Burnett won his fifth consecutive start and the Pittsburgh Pirates finished their first sweep of an AL team in more than a decade by beating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 Sunday.
McCutchen hit an RBI double in the first inning and hit a two-run home run in the third, giving Burnett (6-2) and three relievers enough support for Pittsburgh to win its fourth in a row. This was the 50th interleague series the Pirates had played since taking three in a row from the Cleveland Indians June 15-17, 2001.
Pittsburgh entered the day a game behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds in the NL Central. Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar each had two hits for the Royals, who have lost four in a row and six of eight.
Since May 25, the Pirates have the best record in the majors at 12-3.
Burnett was charged with two runs on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 7 1-3 innings. Pittsburgh has won his past seven starts.
Burnett 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 double scored Brayan Pena in the seventh.
That snapped a streak of 20 consecutive innings without an earned run at PNC Park for Burnett. He is 4-0 with a 1.27 ERA at home this season.
Tony Watson came on with runners at first and third and one out in the eighth, allowing Gordon to score on a Hosmer fielder's choice.
Juan Cruz walked the bases loaded but struck out Mitch Maier for the final out of the eighth.
With closer Joel Hanrahan unavailable because he had appeared in the past three games, Jason Grilli worked around trouble in the ninth for his fourth career save and first of the season. With two on and no outs, Grilli struck out Gordon and Johnny Giavotella to end the game.
Pittsburgh improved to 17-10 in one-run games.
McCutchen entered the game with 15 hits in his past 27 at bats against left-handers. He made it 17-for-29 over the course of the first three innings.
His first-inning double to right drove in Alex Presley, who led off the inning with a single. With Neil Walker on and two outs in the third, McCutchen lifted a 1-2 pitch from Bruce Chen into the left-field bleachers for his 11th of the season.
Chen (5-6) allowed three runs on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings. He came into the game with five wins in his past six starts but fell to 0-4 in his career at PNC Park.
The Royals have lost 24 of their past 33 games against NL teams.