The Bucs went down in order, on a whiff, broken bat flare and soft liner to short; Thornburg is leaning on his change up heavily in the early going. After a pair of groundouts in the second, the bottom of the order put up a score. Juan Francisco took a sinker the opposite way, dropping it just inside the chalk in left for a double. With two strikes, Logan Shafer rolled a ball up the middle; Neil Walker's dive knocked it into short center, allowing the run to come in. Shafer went against the book and stole second with the pitcher up, but another grounder closed the chapter.
Clint Barmes opened the third with a single off the mound and up the middle and was bunted to second. JT lined an inside heater to left for a knock and tied the game. Walker rode a ball to deep center, but Shafer hauled it in a step or two from the wall. Cutch walked, and Pedro flew out to right short of the track to end the inning.
Aoki started by dropping a fly in front of Marlon Byrd; it bounced away and the single-and-error put the Brewer on second. A slow chopper to short moved him to third, and the Bucs may have got a call on the play when Jean Segura was rung up at first; he may have had a toe on the base before the ball arrived. Pirate leather TCB after that. Jonathan Lucroy bounced to third; Pedro went home, eventually tagged Segura out during the ensuing rundown and then spun and fired a bullet to second to nail Lucroy for a 5-2-5-4 DP.
Byrd went deep to center for the first out in the fourth; too bad the Bucs aren't pulling the ball a but more off Thornburg. Morneau walked, but was erased on a check swing to second; he stopped to avoid the tag; the throw then went to first and he was doubled up in a rundown. Aramis Ramirez opened with a single. A fly, walk and tapper put Brewers on the corners, and Charlie worked Shafer carefully, walking him to load the bases with some borderline hooks to bring up Thornburg, who K'ed.
Barmes banged a two-bagger to start the fifth, and was bunted to third on a heads-up play; Morton bounced back to the mound, but the Brewers had a wheel play on, leaving second uncovered; Barmes bobbed between the bases and took third on the throw to first. With the infield in, JT pushed a soft liner past the SS for the lead, and Walker singled him to second. Cutch went after the first pitch, flying out to medium left center. With Pedro up, a wild pitch moved the runners up and El Toro was walked to jam the sacks. Byrd, who has been solid as a Bucco, wasn't during this at bat, swinging through an up-and-away heater and then striking out on a ball in the dirt. With one down, Segura singled and stole second, moving to third on a grounder to second. A-Ram got ahead 2-0, and even snapping the bat in half, drove one just short of the track in right where Byrd tucked it in for the third out.
Pittsburgh went down quietly in the sixth. Ground Chuck broke out the hook and change, striking out the side on just 10 pitches.
Tom Gorzelanny took the ball in the seventh, gave up a bloop single to Morton, and was yanked, presumably because of a health issue (later reported as shoulder tightness) as the trainer eventually joined the flash mob at the mound. Alfredo Figaro got the call. JT lined a ball to center so sharply that Shafer came up firing, looking to force Morton at second. That ploy didn't work, nor did Figaro's next fastball that The Kid crushed into the second tier of stands in right center. He settled down after that, giving up a one out double to Pedro that short hopped the fence in left center. But with nine outs to go, the Bucs are now up 5-1. With two outs in the Brewer half, stuff happened. Aoki bunted for a single and Segura poked a liner just over Barme's mitt into left. JT lobbed the ball to third, Pedro whiffed on the routine catch and the ball rolled into the dugout for a two base error, scoring a run and moving Segura to third. Morton brought some sanity back by whiffing Lucroy and keeping a 5-2 lead.
Michael Blazek came on for the Cards in the eighth and tossed a clean frame; ditto for Tony Watson. Rob Wooten worked the ninth, giving up a two-out double off the top of the wall to Cutch. Mark the Shark circled for the close. After a pair of K, Khris Davis singled to left. A bouncer later, Melancon had his 10th save and Charlie his seventh win, and the Bucs were back atop the NL Central.
Clint, JT and The Kid were clutch, but Charlie Morton did it all. Seven innings of two run (one earned) ball on seven hits with two walks and six K, using 93 pitches was strong enough. His two bunts behind Barmes set up both of Tabata's RBI, and his single started the inning that Walker cashed in on. It's good to have Morton back.
Gerrit Cole faces Yovani Gallardo tomorrow night.
- With today's outing, Charlie Morton has six straight 6+ innings, two-or-fewer runs, starts. His ERA is now at 3.00.
- Neil Walker became the first Pirate second baseman to have four consecutive years of 10+ homers.
- It's still a workingman's town. The Pirates have won more games on Labor Day (112) than any other franchise since 1900.
- The Reds beat the Cards today 7-2; Mat Latos tossed a complete game victory. The Bucs are a game up on St. Louis and 3-1/2 up on Cincinnati.
- The Hit Collector, Indy's Matt Hague, leads the International League this season with 153 hits.
- The Pirates promoted Altoona's Eastern League Player of the Year OF/1B Alex Dickerson to Indianapolis.
- Oh, the Bucs are at 80 wins on Labor Day for the first time since 1992.