Talk about your role reversals...Charlie Morton has returned from the land of the dead and the Pirates are 5-2 on the road after a 6-1 whipping of the division-leading Cincy Reds tonight.
Morton came within an out of shutting out the Reds, being nicked for a two-out, ninth inning homer by Jay Bruce. CM notched the complete game with a line of one run on five hits, walking just a pair and striking out three.
He used just 110 pitches (81 for strikes), and it was nice to see Clint Hurdle let him go the distance; JR would have had someone in to mop up for the ninth. It was the second complete game of Morton's fledgling career.
The Bucs started with single runs in the second and third when Garrett Jones went deep on a tight knee-high slider and Lyle Overbay singled home Pedro an inning later. They broke it open in the fourth. With two away, Jose Tabata singled, Overbay doubled him home, and Neil Walker went yard a few feet inside the right field foul pole, his third homer of the season.
The Pirates added another run in the ninth when Chris Snyder singled home Walker, who had started the frame by drawing a free pass. He got to the plate because Jones was walked intentionally to load the sacks.
Pittsburgh finally broke out of its hitting slump by banging 14 hits, even if they did strand a dozen. Tabata led the hit parade with four knocks, bringing his average up to .354 while Snyder collected three hits. Overbay and Jones each added a pair of hits.
The only downer was McCutch, who wore the collar while striking out four times, and is now carrying a .196 BA.
Still, it was a pretty cleanly played game for the Bucs. Morton mostly threw first-pitch strikes, and except for a wind blown ball that McCutch couldn't run down and a grounder that went through Cedeno's legs, all the plays in the field that should have have been made were.
Pittsburgh will try to continue its new-found road prowess tomorrow afternoon at 1:10 PM when James McDonald faces Edison Volquez.
-- The game was played in tornado conditions, with 25-30 MPH wind gusts and occasional rain storms. Guess that's what the Pittsburgh area has to look forward to in a few more hours.
-- Tonight was the first four-hit game of Jose Tabata's MLB career.
-- During the pregame show, Hurdle said he's sticking with his new lineup for awhile. The shake up puts McCutch at leadoff, Tabata second, Overbay third and Walker at cleanup.
-- As expected, the Pirates named Jeff Karstens the starter for Sunday's game against the Reds.