Pedro Alvarez came to the plate in the first inning with the bases loaded and delivered a two-run double to help the Pittsburgh Pirates shut out the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday night, 4-0.
The Pirates did not get many opportunities against Mat Latos but they made the best with what they got early in the game.
Latos was forced to labor early but settled down after the first inning, however, this did not prevent him from losing his first game in his last 21 starts. He surrendered the three runs in the early going, but struck out nine batters in his five innings of work.
Charlie Morton took the mound in just his second start of the season and earned his first win by doing what he does best- getting ground balls. He allowed just three hits over 5 and 1/3 innings, struck out a pair and did not walk a single batter.
Pittsburgh did all the little things necessary to win this game; solid defense, timely hitting and great pitching against a strong lineup. Russell Martin gunned down Shin-Soo Choo trying to steal second, added a run-scoring single in the first and stole a base hitting in the 2-hole for Manager Clint Hurdle.
Starling Marte was 2-for-5 with a triple, RBI and a stolen base- his 21st of the season (2nd in National League).
With A.J. Burnett on the shelf and Wandy Rodriguez banged up, the Pirates needed Morton to fill in effectively in the starting rotation. He allowed four runs (two earned) in his last start and appears to be a sufficient substitute for now.
Like many times this season, the Pirates handed the lead to their bullpen which has been one of the best in baseball this year. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli pitched 3 and 2/3 innings of scoreless ball surrendering just one hit and striking out eight.
Pittsburgh tied the four-game set and look to take the upper hand tomorrow night as they send one of their pleasant surprises in 2013 to the mound in Jeff Locke (6-1). He will face Bronson Arroyo (6-5) in what’s considered as another great pitching matchup.
Ekiert’s Top Performers:
PIT: Starling Marte, LF; 2-for-5, 3B, RBI, SB
CIN: Joey Votto, 1B; 2-for-4, 2B