Righthander Charlie Morton, in just his second start since coming back from Tommy John surgery, helped the Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 on a cloudy Tuesday evening at Great American Ballpark.
The long time rivals have split the first two games of their four-game series this week. The Bucs are now 42-29 and are just a half-game behind the Reds for second place in the National League Central Division.
Morton gave up just three hits on 61 pitches over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two as he started the Bucs toward their National League-leading 12th shutout. It was Morton’s first win since last May.
Lefthander Tony Watson answered the call to the bullpen to finish out the sixth inning for Morton and pitch the seventh. Watson struck out three and stranded two runners in scoring position.
Then it was time for righthander Mark Melancon in the eighth and Jason Grilli in the ninth to perserve the shutout. Melancon struck out two in the eighth and Grilli struck out three in the ninth.
Cincinnati starter Mat Latos (6-1) saw his streak of 21 regular-season starts without a loss snapped by the Bucs. The 6-foor-6 righthander had not lost a regular season game since August 24, when the Cardinals defeated the Reds 8-5. Latos gave up three runs on three hits, struck out nine and walked three over five innings of work.
The Pirates took care of business in the top of the first when Starling Marte led off with a triple and then scored on Russell Martin’s infield single to short. The scoring contined, when with the bases loaded and one out, Pedro Alvarez singled to left field to score Russell Martin and Garrett Jones. The three-run first forced Latos to throw 32 pitches, which helped limit him to his five inning performance.
In the top of the seventh, Pittsburgh added one more run to the scoreboard, when with two out Starling Marte singled to center to score Jordy Mercer from second base. Marte finished the night with two hits, a stolen base and an RBI.
The third game of the four-game series is set for 7:10 p.m. Wednesday. The Reds (43-29) will send righthander Bronson Arroyo (6-5, 3.27 ERA) to the mound while the Pirates will counter with lefthander Jeff Locke (6-1, 2.19 ERA). It will be the 15th start of the season for the 25-year-old southpaw. The game will be broadcast on ROOT Sports Pittsburgh.
From The Clipboard: The Reds and the Bucs each have 25 home wins this season, the most in baseball… Russell Martin has recorded a 3.23 ERA behind the plate this season and the only player in the majors with a lower catcher’s ERA is Saint Louis’ Yadier Molina with a 3.14 ERA…Since the beginning of last season, Andrew McCutchen has hit 21 home runs against National League Central teams and the only player with more in that time is the Reds’ Jay Bruce with 23…Wandy Rodriguez is slated to pitch a full bullpen session on Thursday. The lefthander will throw breaking balls for the first time since leaving his start on June 5th with forearm discomfort. Rodriguez is set for a rehab start this Sunday at Triple-A Indianapolis.