What are earned runs?

What are earned runs? Here are some definitions.

Noun
  1. plural of earned run
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Examples
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.
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.
He began the season with a twelve strikeout masterpiece, and only allowed four earned runs in his first four starts, spanning 27.1 innings.
In those three outings, which accounted for his only defeats of the season, he gave up 22 earned runs.
In two appearances since returning from his 18-day banishment to Triple-A Las Vegas, Carter has allowed three earned runs on five hits over two innings.
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.

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