Pirates 5, Reds 0
The ball came off Fred Lewis’ bat with a sharp crack, and
Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton thought: Uh-oh, not again!
Not this time. The ball was caught on the warning track, and
Morton had his shutout.
The right-hander shut down Cincinnati’s powerful lineup again,
throwing a five-hitter for his second career shutout, and Pedro
Alvarez hit a three-run homer Wednesday night, leading Pittsburgh
to a 5-0 victory that snapped the Pirates’ six-game losing
”He’s so effective, especially when he keeps the ball down,”
It helps when the weather cooperates, too.
Morton (5-1) avoided heavy rain for a change and stymied
Cincinnati again. He threw a five-hitter for a 6-1 win at Great
American Ball Park on April 15, coming within one out of his second
career shutout. Jay Bruce homered with two outs in the ninth to end
This time, he faced Lewis with two outs in the ninth. He hit a
fly ball that Jose Tabata caught on the warning track in left field
to finish it off.
”I almost thought when Fred hit that ball it was going to go
out,” said Morton, who threw 69 strikes out of 106 pitches. ”I
just looked at it and was, ‘Oh, no!’ But Tabata was at the warning
track and he caught it.”
Alvarez ended his streak of 15 games without driving in a run
when he connected in the fourth off Bronson Arroyo (3-4), who has
been prone to homers this season. Andrew McCutchen added a two-run
shot in the seventh.
Arroyo has given up 10 homers, accounting for 16 of the 29 runs
he’s allowed. Against Morton, there was no margin for error.
”Any way you cut it, when Charlie’s throwing that way against
us, you can’t afford to give up a lot of runs,” Arroyo said.
Morton sent the Reds to only their third loss in 14 games. His
other shutout was Sept. 30, 2009 at Wrigley Field – the last
complete-game shutout by a Pirates pitcher on the road.
Morton has turned into the Pirates’ rainmaker. His start last
Thursday against the Dodgers was called after two innings. He was
supposed to start Tuesday in Washington, but the game was called
because of a threat of rain, pushing him back one day.
”I think it was an advantage to come in and have some rest,”
Morton said. ”Obviously I was worried about feeling rusty. I felt
pretty sharp, pretty fresh.”
Appropriately, he didn’t get through this one without some
raindrops. Light rain moved in during the sixth inning, but Morton
was in control by then.
The right-hander’s sinking pitches have gotten the better of
Cincinnati’s prolific offense. Morton gets 77 percent of his outs
off ground balls, the most in the majors. He kept his infielders
busy again on Wednesday – only seven of Cincinnati’s outs came in
”It was good stuff: Ground Chuck,” Pirates manager Clint
Hurdle said. ”I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him.”
His latest showing was a big relief for the struggling Pirates,
who are familiar with long losing streaks. They had four losing
streaks of at least seven games last season, including a 12-game
slump in June.
Arroyo gave up five runs in seven innings, becoming the first
Reds starter to take a loss since May 3. With Homer Bailey and
Johnny Cueto back from the disabled list, Reds starters had gone
unbeaten during the last 13 games – 8-0 with a 2.37 ERA.
NOTES: It was the third combined shutout by Pirates pitchers
this season. The Reds were blanked for only the second time. …
Pirates RH Evan Meek, on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, fanned
three batters in one inning during a minor league rehab appearance
on Tuesday night. Manager Clint Hurdle said the reliever will pitch
Friday and Saturday and if there’s no problem, he’ll rejoin the
team next week. … Bruce was a late scratch from the Reds’ lineup.
He wasn’t feeling well. … Arroyo gave up a pair of singles in the
first inning. Reds pitchers have only nine 1-2-3 opening innings in
43 games. … 2B Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to