CINCINNATI (AP)—Wind gusts howled through the upper decks and made it rain sideways at Great American Ball Park—not the best kind of night to be standing on the mound.
What came next? A complete game.
Morton went the distance for the second time in his career, limiting the NL’s most prolific lineup to five hits, and the Pirates ended their four-game losing streak by beating the Cincinnati Reds 6-1 in blustery conditions.
Sometimes, it was tough just to hold your ground.
“The only place I’ve been like that is in Candlestick Park,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “With that much debris on the field, the wind, the rain—the rain sideways. I mean, the rain’s all over the place. You don’t know where it’s coming from. I think sometimes it was going back up. So it was challenging conditions to say the least.
“He stayed focus. It was Charlie’s night. Our offense showed up, and it was Charlie’s night.”
The gusts sent food wrappers racing across the field and played havoc with flyballs—one of Cincinnati’s wind-blown flies landed for a hit. No problem for Morton (2-0), who kept his shutout until Jay Bruce(notes) homered with two outs in the ninth. His only other complete game was a shutout against the Cubs on Sept. 30, 2009.
Hurdle rearranged his lineup for the second consecutive game, trying to get some runs out of the NL’s lowest-scoring offense. This time, it worked. The six runs matched Pittsburgh’s season high.
“At the end of the series at home, we were pressing,” Walker said. “We were thinking we had to win. We relaxed a little bit today.”
Five players batted in new positions in the lineup, with Andrew McCutchen(notes) batting leadoff for the first this season. McCutchen struck out four times. Everyone else did much better against Arroyo, who won his first two starts while still recovering from mononucleosis.
Jose Tabata(notes) had a career-high four hits. Garrett Jones, batting sixth for the first time this season, led off the second inning with a homer, snapping his 0-for-10 streak and getting the 14-hit Pirate night rolling.
Lyle Overbay(notes), who loves hitting at Great American Ball Park, singled home a run in the fourth with two outs. Overbay is a .424 career hitter at the Reds’ park, getting two more hits on Friday night.
Walker followed with a two-run homer on a two-strike pitch for a 5-0 lead— two more runs than Arroyo had allowed in his first two starts combined. The right-hander has acknowledged he’s still a little off after being diagnosed with mononucleosis during spring training.
“I felt stronger than I have all year,” Arroyo said. “Those guys fought me hard tonight. You’ve got to (credit) Charlie. He threw a great game.”
Cincinnati’s offense bailed out Arroyo in the first two games, scoring a total of 18 runs. It couldn’t do anything against Morton, who struck out three and got 15 outs on ground balls. The 27-year-old right-hander has given up only four earned runs in his three starts, winning back-to-back decisions for the first time in his career.
With time on his hands, Phillips sent out 36 tweets in two-hour span before the game. Phillips took up tweeting before the start of the season at the urging of Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco.
NOTES: RH Jeff Karstens(notes) will start for the Pirates on Sunday. … McCutchen’s four strikeouts were one shy of the club record. … Pittsburgh called up LH reliever Joe Beimel(notes) before the game. … Reds LH reliever Aroldis Chapman(notes) will get a couple days off to rest a tender pitching elbow. Baker said doctors don’t think it’s anything serious. … RH Johnny Cueto(notes) will make his first rehab start for Triple-A Louisville, RH Homer Bailey(notes) his first there a day later. Both opened the season on the DL with shoulder problems. … After the game, the Reds announced that Mike Leake(notes) will start against the Pirates on Saturday in place of Edinson Volquez(notes), who has a stiff neck and will be pushed back one day.
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