- Associated Press - Sunday, April 26, 2015

PHOENIX (AP) - By getting important contributions from just about everyone on the team, the Pittsburgh Pirates have put together their best April winning streak in seven years.

Neil Walker doubled with two outs in the ninth inning and scored on Starling Marte’s single, sending the Pirates to a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday night.

“I was just trying to find a way to get on base any way I can,” Walker said. “We don’t have just one or two guys that can beat you. We have seven or eight guys that can on any given night, and we do what we can to win.”

The Pirates have won four straight in April for the first time since 2008.

“It’s another thing we had on our to-do list coming in,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’re working hard to get better every single day collectively as a club.”

Tony Watson (1-1) pitched out of trouble in the eighth to earn the win. Mark Melancon worked the ninth for his fifth save.

Addison Reed (0-1) took the loss for the Diamondbacks, who have dropped three of four.

Watson gave up consecutive singles to start the eighth and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a soft bouncer to third for the first out, advancing the runners. But pinch-hitter Mark Trumbo fouled out and Watson whiffed Aaron Hill to escape the jam.

“He’s cool out there,” Hurdle said. “He’s got a slow heartbeat. He doesn’t get rattled.”

Each team’s starter dominated over the first seven innings.

Pittsburgh right-hander A.J. Burnett scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Burnett has allowed one run in each of his past three starts and five earned runs total over 25 innings for a 1.80 ERA.

“It’s different now than it was a couple of years ago with velocity and stuff,” Burnett said. “I just pitch and not get stubborn thinking I can sneak some balls by the hitters. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can set that up. But just pitch and use the movement to my advantage.”

On the other side, Rubby De La Rosa yielded four hits and matched a career high with eight strikeouts. The right-hander did not walk a batter.

“I tried to attack the zone,” De La Rosa said. “Everything I did tonight, everything was under control.”

The Diamondbacks took a 1-0 lead in the second with a two-out rally. Chris Owings singled, stole second and scored on a single by Tuffy Gosewisch.

Cliff Pennington bunted toward third base against an exaggerated shift to the right side for an easy single, but Burnett struck out De La Rosa to end the inning.

Pittsburgh tied it in the fourth. Walker doubled to right field and came home one out later when Pedro Alvarez doubled into the right-field corner.


Pirates: INF Justin Sellers, who began the season on the disabled list with pain in his left heel, will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Indianapolis this weekend.

Diamondbacks: RHP David Hernandez threw a scoreless inning and struck out one in an extended spring training game against the Brewers. LHP Patrick Corbin threw a bullpen session Friday at Chase Field. Both pitchers are working their way back from Tommy John surgery.


With his four strikeouts, Burnett moved closer to Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax on the career list. Burnett is six strikeouts behind Koufax for 42nd place and needs 10 more to become the 41st pitcher with 2,400. Burnett is second in strikeouts to Yankees LHP CC Sabathia among active players.


Arizona manager Chip Hale exhausted a replay challenge with two outs in the first inning when he disputed Gregory Polanco’s steal of second base. Umpires needed nearly four minutes to rule on the challenge before upholding Phil Cuzzi’s call at second base. Two pitches later, De La Rosa retired Walker to strand Polanco at second.


Pirates 3B Josh Harrison had hit safely in his past six games at Chase Field, going 11 for 27 for a healthy .407 batting average during that stretch. But he was hitless in four at-bats, including a pair of strikeouts.


Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler pitched a scoreless eighth inning to set a club record with 254 career appearances. Ziegler appeared in 223 games with Oakland before being shipped to Arizona at the 2011 trade deadline for two players.


Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano (0-1) makes his fourth start of the season Sunday. Liriano has started twice previously against Arizona, once last season for Pittsburgh and once for the Minnesota Twins.

Diamondbacks: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-2) is coming off his first win for Arizona last Sunday against San Francisco. Hellickson has yet to face Pittsburgh but has held a trio of Pirates batters - Corey Hart, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart - hitless in seven at-bats.

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