Charlie Morton dominated in the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 routing of the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Tuesday night.
Morton out-pitched his mound opponent Mat Latos, as he won his first game since May 2011 with excellent control and lots of ground balls, demonstrating how he earned the name “Ground Chuck”. Morton didn’t surrender a run through 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and striking out two.
He carried a no-hitter into the fourth before Joey Votto singled on a sharp ground ball to left field. Morton’s only baserunner to that point was Shin-Shoo Choo, whom he hit on his first pitch of the night. It was a much-anticipated move after Reds closer Aroldis Chapman’s 100-mph fastball just missed Neil Walker’s chin on Monday.
After hitting Choo, Morton got Zach Cozart to ground into a double play, and Joey Votto flied out to center field.
Hurdle pulled Morton with one out in the sixth after Zack Cozart struck out, but reached on a wild pitch. The inning got interesting when lefty Tony Watson surrendered a double to the first batter he faced, Joey Votto. He recovered by striking out Brandon Phillips and getting Jay Bruce to bounce one back to the mound.
The Pirates scored all the runs they needed in the first inning. Starling Marte led off the game with a triple, and scored on a Russell Martin triple two pitches later. Latos then walked Garrett Jones and Neil Walker to load the bases for Pedro Alvarez, who drove a ball deep into the left field corner, allowing Martin and Jones to score.
Latos used 32 pitches to get through the first inning, which played a role in limiting him to only five innings.
In the top of the seventh, the Pirates added an insurance run when Marte knocked in Jordy Mercer. Watson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning and allowed way for the dynamic duo of Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli to finish off the Reds.
With the win, the Pirates got back to one-half game behind the Reds for second place in the National League Central. They will look to take over second on Wednesday when the red-hot Jeff Locke takes the mound against former Pirate Bronson Arroyo.