Even a rare offensive outburst wasn’t enough to help the Pittsburgh Pirates shake their latest lengthy road losing streak. There’s no telling how many runs they’ll need to win with Charlie Morton(notes) back in the rotation.
Morton lost nine of 10 starts before being exiled in late May, and he’ll return to the majors Sunday afternoon trying to snap the Pirates’ 12-game road skid and avoid another three-game sweep against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Pittsburgh (43-86) came into this weekend set averaging 2.85 runs away from home - the worst in the majors by half a run - so it was no surprise when it lost 7-2 in Friday’s opener.
The Pirates did hold a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning, though that paled in comparison to the 6-2 edge they held in the third Saturday. Two homers by Prince Fielder(notes) helped Milwaukee (61-68) wipe out that deficit, though, and Lorenzo Cain’s(notes) 11th-inning single gave the Brewers an 8-7 walkoff win.
“We just couldn’t hang on to the lead and we couldn’t get the big hit later,” Pirates manager John Russell said.
Pittsburgh hadn’t scored seven runs on the road since a 10-6 win at Wrigley Field on May 14. It still has work to do, however, to match its 17-game losing streak away from home from May 26-June 27.
A victory Sunday would be Milwaukee’s 28th in 30 home games against the Pirates, and it should feel confident in its chances with Morton (1-9, 9.35 ERA) on the hill for Pittsburgh.
The right-hander led the majors in losses before hitting the disabled list in late May, and he’s spent nearly three months with Triple-A Indianapolis trying to find his control. He went 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 starts with the Indians, and tossed six scoreless innings in his latest start.
“I’m anxious to see him pitch again,” Russell told the Pirates’ official website. “He’s got tremendous stuff and he’s a guy that should be able to pitch at this level and be very effective.”
Morton was anything but effective May 20 against Milwaukee. He gave up six runs and didn’t record an out in the second inning before being lifted from an 8-1 loss.
Dave Bush(notes) (6-11, 4.76) was outstanding that day, holding the Pirates to three hits over seven scoreless innings. He wasn’t so solid July 20 at PNC Park, allowing 10 runs - five earned - over four innings in an 11-9 loss to drop to 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in his last eight starts versus Pittsburgh.
He’s struggled against the Pirates’ trio of talented rookies. Jose Tabata(notes) and Neil Walker(notes) are a combined 6 for 11 against Bush, while Pedro Alvarez(notes) is 4 for 5 with a pair of home runs.
The long ball also hurt Bush in his latest outing. He gave up five runs - all scoring via two homers - over six innings in a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday.
“Tonight is particularly frustrating because I’m so close to putting together another good start,” Bush told the Brewers’ official website.
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