ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Clint Barmes homered and drew a bases-loaded walk for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who completed a three-game sweep in an interleague matchup of wild-card leaders with a 7-5 victory over the slumping Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Justin Morneau, acquired from Minnesota less than two weeks ago, snapped an 0-for-14 slump with four hits while scoring twice.
The Pirates (84-61) moved within a half-game of NL Central-leading St. Louis, which hosted Milwaukee on Wednesday night.
Texas (81-64) has dropped nine of its last 12, a stretch in which the Rangers have lost four consecutive series. They have gone from a three-game lead in the AL West to 2½ behind Oakland before the Athletics played at Minnesota on Wednesday night.
A.J. Burnett (8-10) struck out seven in 6 1-3 innings, though he faded late after retiring the first 13 batters he faced.
Kyle Farnsworth, the fourth Pittsburgh reliever, worked the ninth for his first save since 2011.
Matt Garza (3-4 with Texas, 9-5 overall) needed 89 pitches to get through four innings and left down 3-0. He struck out six, but also walked four and gave up five hits.
Garza, acquired July 22 from the Chicago Cubs to bolster the Rangers’ rotation, is 0-2 his last four starts.
Felix Pie had a leadoff walk in the third, stole second and scored on Neil Walker’s single. The Pirates loaded the bases in the fourth before Barmes drew a walk, and another run came home on a fielder’s choice after shortstop Elvis Andrus bobbled a likely double-play grounder.
Barmes’ solo homer in the eighth, for a 7-5 lead, was the only home run hit by either team in the series.
Burnett struck out five the first two innings and didn’t allow a base runner until A.J. Pierzynski’s one-out double in the fifth. That might have been caught if Gold Glove center fielder Andrew McCutchen wasn’t getting a day off, with the ball going over the outstretched glove of Pie.
After getting his last strikeout before a grounder to end the fifth, Burnett wasn’t so good against the last 10 batters he faced. The right-hander gave up five hits and walked two over that span.
The bottom two batters in the Rangers lineup walked to start the sixth before a single by Ian Kinsler. Andrus drove in two with a single that ricocheted off shortstop Barmes’ glove into short left as he tried to make a backhanded stop.
Pierzynski doubled again to start the seventh and scored on David Murphy’s single that chased Burnett. Kinsler and Andrus had consecutive RBI singles off reliever Jeanmar Gomez that got Texas within 6-5.
Notes: The Pirates won 12 of their last 14 interleague games and finished 15-5 against AL teams. They won their last nine interleague road games. … Texas was 10-10 in interleague play. … Suspended Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz started workouts Wednesday at the team’s spring training complex in Arizona with full defensive drills and batting practice. Instructional league games begin next Wednesday. Cruz’s 50-game suspension came after Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis clinic in Florida accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. Cruz’s suspension goes through the end of the regular season, meaning he could be eligible for the postseason.