What are earned runs?

What are earned runs? Here are some definitions.

Noun
  1. plural of earned run
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Examples
Escobar has given up just two earned runs in each of his last four outings and doesn't have a single victory to show for it.
The left hander pitched six innings and gave up four earned runs.
The A's had nine hits off the 20-year-old in only three innings, as Kazmir allowed five earned runs while striking out only two.
In his fourth start of the season last night, Weaver pitched five innings with no earned runs, allowing two hits and no walks against seven strikeouts.
In three previous starts against the Dodgers this season, Jennings had allowed 13 earned runs in 18 innings.
He began the season with a twelve strikeout masterpiece, and only allowed four earned runs in his first four starts, spanning 27.1 innings.

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