Charlie Morton came to Pittsburgh with a reputation for being soft. Well, he's not soft; we've seen him pitch out of jams a million times. The trouble is that he always seems to be in a jam.
He had no command of his stuff at all, elevating his heater and leaving it over the dish while missing the plate with his breaking stuff. Against a lineup loaded with AAA players, he was ahead of only 10 of the 26 batters he faced. In five frames, Morton gave up six runs on nine hits and four walks, and it was 4-0 after an inning.
And like Jesse Chavez yesterday, Chris Bootcheck came on in the sixth to douse any ember of hope the Pirates had, giving up three runs. Virgil Vasquez followed; two more runs scored in the seventh.
The Pirate hitters remain their own worst enemy at the plate. In the first, Andrew McCutchen walked - and got picked off badly before the next batter even took a pitch. So the two singles that followed netted nada for the Pirates.
In the fourth, Pittsburgh scored twice and had the bases loaded with one out after McCutchen walked. Delwyn Young swung at the first pitch, low and inside, missing it by a foot. The next pitch was up and away; he chopped it off the pitcher to second for the inning-ending 1-4-6-3 DP.
In the ninth, the bases were juiced with nobody out and Garrett Jones up; he bounced into a DP.
Hey, scoring five runs is an OK night's work. But leaving as many easy runs on the bases as you plate contributes just as much as the pitching woes. The Pirates had ten hits and drew seven walks, but three DPs and a pick-off kept them out of a big inning or two.
Add the pitching and hitting together, and the Bucs absorbed an 11-5 licking, their sixth loss in a row after a 7-2 home stand.