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CIN@STL: Westbrook five-hits Reds in dominant start

A.J. Burnett may only be five starts into the season, but the Pirates right-hander is already racking up some historic numbers.

With 42 strikeouts in the month, Burnett has the chance to become just the 22nd pitcher since 1916 to strike out at least 50 during the month of April.

He will look to join some elite company Saturday as the Pirates and Cardinals square off at Busch Stadium. While the Bucs took a 9-1 loss in the series opener Friday, they have been on a hot streak as of late, winning six of their last eight games.

Against St. Louis back on April 17, Burnett dominated through seven innings, allowing only one hit, to Carlos Beltran. He also struck out eight in his first win of the season.

"I'll take that every time out," manager Clint Hurdle said after the game. "He's knocking on the no-hitter door. We've seen it before -- fastball command, hitting the four corners, very solid breaking ball. ... I mean, that's the rhythm when he's the beast that he can be; that's the rhythm you see. Efficient with pitches."

By contrast, Jake Westbrook has struggled greatly against the Pirates this season and throughout his career.

While the right-hander will try for his 100th Major League win, Westbrook has just one career victory in nine starts against Pittsburgh, going 1-7 with a 5.28 ERA.

He allowed four first-inning runs and six hits in two innings against the Pirates on April 16, before the game was washed out.

"I wish I could put my finger on it. That's up to me to try and figure out," Westbrook said about his trouble against the Bucs. "I have to do my work to figure out what I need to do to get these guys out and try to make some better pitches."

Pirates: Contreras' recovery progressing
Jose Contreras, the 41-year-old Cuban pitcher, could be in the Pirates' PNC Park bullpen May 3 when they kick off their next homestand.

Working his way back from Tommy John surgery in June, Contreras has continued to surprise the baseball world with his stuff and command. Most recently, he had back-to-back hitless outings with Double-A Altoona, and he has stepped his rehab up to Triple-A Indianapolis.

He will get another test of pitching in consecutive games Sunday and Monday with the Indians. If all goes well, Hurdle indicated Contreras could "join us in early May."

Cardinals: Adams placed on DL
A day after Matt Adams saw Cardinals team physicians, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain, retroactive to Monday.

Taking Adams' place on the 25-man roster is infielder Jermaine Curtis, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Memphis. It marks the first big league callup for Curtis, who was not a participant in Major League Spring Training this year.

After making his first Opening Day roster, Adams opened the season 13-for-24, with three homers and eight RBIs in eight games.

Worth noting
• The Pirates are 13-10 in April after going 10-12 in the month last season.

• Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday has seven hits in his last three games and has a hit in 17 of the 21 games he has played in this season. Comments