The Pirates combined timely hitting with a solid Charlie Morton outing, winning Tuesday night by a 3-0 score over the Chicago White Sox. In the two games the Pirates hosted at home, their outhit the White Sox 28-6.
Morton earned his fifth win of the season in as many starts. He threw seven scoreless innings allowing four hits on 94 pitches and 65 were strikes. Morton retired 13 batters on three pitches or less and had 12 ground ball outs.
Morton’s main trouble came in the first inning when he had a leadoff walk to Adam Eaton. Eaton then stole second. Alexi Ramirez grounded into a fielder’s choice and Francisco Cervelli threw to third and Jung Ho Kang’s tag was in time for the out. Jose Abreu then singled however Morton would pitch his way out of the inning with a fly out and a fielder’s choice.
“It was a real good effort for him to push through that,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “It was a strong performance throughout the game.”
Cervelli cited that Morton settled down after the inning, kept things simple and used his heavy sinker.
The Pirates scored single runs in both the third and fourth innings.
Starling Marte led off the third inning with a first-pitch single. He would steal second base, his 12th of the season. Andrew McCutchen singled to left field scoring Marte. White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera threw home which allowed McCutchen to advance to second base.
In the fourth inning it was Sean Rodriguez who hit a 1-1 pitch into the left field seats for his third home run of the season. It was his first extra base hit since May 27 and his first home run since May 16.
Cervelli accounted for the third and final Pirates run of the night leading off the sixth inning. Cervelli’s homer over the left field wall was his second of the season and came on a 2-0 pitch. He also continued his innings caught shutout streak which is currently at 51 consecutive innings.
“It’s a game of individual responsibility and it’s all geared up and aimed for competitive gain,” said Hurdle. “He’s been looking for this opportunity to play for a long time. He’s staying healthy and doing a fantastic job behind the plate with all the pitcher. Offensively he playing to his strengths and not trying to do too much.”
Tony Watson pitched the eighth inning and earned his 16th hold of the season which ranks him fourth among major league relievers.
Mark Melancon tossed the ninth inning and earned his 21st save of the season. He has now converted a career-high 19 consecutive save opportunities. His 70 saves as a Pirate tie Jose Mesa for fifth in team history.
The six consecutive wins represent the second longest winning streak of the season.
“It makes things a whole lot easier,” said Rodriguez. “It keeps the rhythm flowing.”
These teams will play an additional two games, this time in Chicago. Jeff Locke [3-3 4.90 ERA] will throw for the Pirates against John Danks [3-6 5.16 ERA]. Locke has never faced the White Sox, however he is 4-1 with a 2.82 ERA in seven career Interleague starts. Danks is 1-0 in his career against the Pirates allowing two runs in eight innings. He owns a 10-7 record with a 3.01 ERA in 26 career Interleague starts.
The Pirates have signed second-round draft pick Kevin Kramer. Kramer completed his redshirt junior season with UCLA this year and batted .323 with 13 doubles, seven home runs, 34 RBI and 55 runs scored. He also was named First Team All-Pac 12. This means that the Pirates have signed their first three draft selections.
He said it:
“The failure during Spring Training forced me to change some things, so going on the DL gave me the opportunity to work on some things.” – Charlie Morton on what has changed since Spring Training
“I had to do it for myself. I had to live up to what I was saying.” – Andrew McCutchen on his hot play since early May when he voiced his frustrations to the media following a game
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