Charlie Morton was given an extra day to sort out his sinker and become more efficient with his pitches. The result was a Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2 victory Monday against the Chicago Cubs to open a four-game series.
Andrew McCutchen homered and drove in three runs in all as the Pirates (30-33) moved to 18-15 at PNC Park this season and ended a skid in which they had lost three of their past four games.
Morton earned his third victory of the season, allowing one run on six hits over seven innings. His curveball resulted in five of his seven strikeouts.
The scoring opened in the second inning when Marte ended his 0-for-23 slump with a double that scored Pedro Alvarez. Two additional runs scored when McCutchen hit his eighth home run of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning. The home run was the sixth Cubs starter Edwin Jackson has allowed this season.
McCutchen struck again in the fifth inning with an opposite-field double off the Clemente Wall, which scored Travis Snider making the score 4-0 Pirates. The Cubs countered in the top of the sixth inning with an Anthony Rizzo single, while Starlin Castro blasted a double, again off the Clemente Wall.
The score would remain the same as Jackson and an inning later Morton were taken out of the game. Mark Melancon came in for the Pirates and had his fourth straight scoreless and hitless outing, needing only 10 pitches.
In the eighth inning Ike Davis ended an 0-for-22 hitting skid with his fifth home run of the season over the center field wall off Carlos Villanueva. On the very next pitch, Alvarez hit a pitch off the Clemente Wall for a double. Marte would bat him in with a ball that died just past first base. He sped to second for a double.
Jared Hughes pitched the last inning and on a 2-1 count surrendered Castro’s eighth home run. Castro had three hits in the loss and was the only Cub with more than one hit. This is the first outing Hughes has allowed a run since the May 20 loss to Baltimore. The scoreless streak was at nine games and 7 1/3 innings.
The Pirates now have received back-to-back strong outings from Jeff Locke and Morton after it was announced that Gerrit Cole was placed on the disabled list. This has to be a welcome sight for pitching coach Ray Searage and the team.
Hitting became contagious especially among the outfield with Marte, McCutchen and Snider combining for seven of the team’s 10 hits.
Of note: Neil Walker was scratched from the lineup because of abdominal pains. Reports after the game indicated he had an emergency appendectomy at a local hospital.