Morton pitches 7 strong innings, drives in go-ahead run
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Charlie Morton isn’t showing any signs of missing almost the first two months of the season while he rehabbed from right hip surgery.
Morton pitched seven strong innings and combined with two relievers on a four-hitter, and drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-2 victory against the San Diego Padres on Saturday night.
Morton (2-0) retired his last 11 batters in his second start of the season. He won his season debut 4-2 against Marlins on Monday after starting the year on the disabled list. He held San Diego to two runs, one earned, and three hits while striking out two and walking one.
“That’s why I’m here,” he said. “I didn’t really have expectations per se, just that I’m going to go out there and try and make every pitch, and just make good pitches.”
Morton said he was “just really aggressive. Sinkers working, curveball for strikes. I guess that’s it.”
Morton (2-0) retired his last 11 batters in his second start of the season. He won his season debut 4-2 against Marlins on Monday after starting the year on the disabled list recovering from right hip surgery. He held San Diego to two runs, one earned, and three hits while striking out two and walking one.
After allowing an unearned run in the fourth, he got Will Middlebrooks to hit into a double play, and then retired in the Padres in order in the fifth through seventh innings.
“The sinker had really good life and his rhythm and pace on the mound were very, very good,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
“It’s exciting for us to get him back. Everybody kind of buys in and picks up the pace. It’s kind of like playing fast but not hurrying. ... it’s a fun game to be a part of,” Hurdle said.
“Their guy was pretty good,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “That was the key. We just really couldn’t solve the sinker and curveball combo. He had a lot of movement. It’s tough to square up. He was on tonight. We just couldn’t solve him.”
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.
The Pirates won for the eighth time in nine games.
Pittsburgh broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth when Morton’s bases-loaded chopper to second brought in Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez doubled into the left-center gap with one out. After Francisco Cervelli was hit on the left shoulder by a pitch from Tyson Ross (2-5), he advanced on Jordy Mercer’s infield single before Alvarez doubled.
The Pirates scored an unearned run in the first and a run in the second inning, while also stranding five runners.
Andrew McCutcheon singled with two outs in the first and, after a throwing error by third baseman Middlebrooks allowed Starling Marte to reach, scored on Neil Walker’s single. Alvarez walked to load the bases before Ross got a ground out to get out of the jam.
San Diego tied it six pitches into the bottom of the inning when Will Venable drew a leadoff walk and scored on Yangervis Solarte’s double to left.
The Pirates jumped ahead 2-1 in the second when Mercer hit a leadoff single and scored on Josh Harrison’s one-out single to right. Ross loaded the bases on a single and walk before getting Marte to hit into a double play.
San Diego tied it in the fourth when Matt Kemp, aboard on a one-out single, scored from second on a throwing error by first baseman Alvarez. With Derek Norris aboard ono a single, Alvarez fielded Cory Spangenberg’s single and tried to force Norris at second but it hit him in the helmet for an error, allowing Kemp to score.
Ross allowed three runs, two earned, on seven hits in six innings, struck out two and walked two.
Pirates: Harrison was back at third base after missing Friday’s game due to a sore shoulder suffered while sliding in Thursday’s game.
Padres: RHP Brandon Morrow, on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, will make a rehab start with Double-A San Antonio on Tuesday. ... OF-1B Wil Myers, on the DL with tendinitis in his left wrist, hit off the tee in the batting cage. Swinging is a good sign,” Black said. “It was not at 100 percent intensity. But he came out fine. This was a step.”
Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke (3-2, 4.70) looks for a better result in the series finale than the 5-2 loss he took to the Padres in 2013 in his only appearance against San Diego.
Padres: RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 6.11) will try for his first victory since April 20. He’s 0-3 in seven starts since then.