<
>

Morton pitches surging Pirates over Red Sox 4-0

PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton had no expectations when he took the mound in a major league game for the first time in a month.

However, the Pittsburgh right-hander exceeded his manager's expectations as he came off the disabled list to gain his first victory since July 2, and the Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox 4-0 on Tuesday night for their ninth win in 11 games.

"I just wanted to go out and give what I got," Morton said. "I didn't know what was going to happen. I'm glad with the way it turned out."

Sidelined since Aug. 16 because of right hip inflammation and a sports hernia, Morton (6-12) allowed four hits in five innings, struck out six and walked two. He had been 0-3 with a 5.09 ERA in his eight previous starts.

"We felt we've got a guy there we needed to see where he could go and what he could bring," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "We didn't want to wait any longer. We wanted to see what he could bring, and adjust accordingly. He worked very hard (while on the DL) and his preparation paid off. It was a real shot in the arm."

Five pitchers combined on three-hit relief, completing the Pirates' eighth shutout this season. Boston has been blanked 15 times,

Pittsburgh remained 1 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers for the NL's second wild card and moved within 2 1/2 games of the St. Louis Cardinals, the NL Central leaders. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to the Brewers at home in 12 innings on Tuesday night.

Russell Martin hit a two-run homer in the second inning off rookie Anthony Ranaudo (3-3), and Starling Marte added a solo shot in the sixth. Travis Snider added an RBI single in the seventh against Tommy Layne

Ranaudo lost his third straight start, giving up three runs, four hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. He has allowed 10 home runs in his first six big league starts.

"There was a bad pitch in there to Martin and one to Marte," Ranaudo said. "If we look back at all my starts, the common theme is home runs, and I obviously have to do a better job."

Boston rookie Xander Bogaerts had two hits to extend his hitting streak to nine games.

The Red Sox, who are last in the AL East a year after winning the World Series, were hitless in 10 at bats with runners in scoring positon and stranded eight runners.

MEDICAL WATCH

Red Sox: INF-OF Brock Holt is to be examined by concussion specialist Dr. Michael Collins on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Holt hasn't played since Sept. 5.

Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer was a late scratch because of lower back tightness. Clint Barmes took his place in the starting lineup. ... Marte (bruised right elbow) started for the first time since he was hit by a pitch from Philadelphia RHP A.J. Burnett last Thursday.

UP NEXT

Boston RHP Clay Buchholz (8-8, 5.19) will look to win his fourth consecutive start Wednesday night when he faces LHP Francisco Liriano (5-10, 3.53), who is seeking to win his third straight outing. Buchholz has allowed four earned runs in 21 1/3 innings in his last three starts for a 1.66 ERA. Liriano pitched a combined 14 shutout innings while winning his last two starts.

CASTILLO DEBUT WEDNESDAY

Boston planned to recall CF Rusney Castillo from Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday night and he will make his major league debut. The Red Sox signed Castillo to a $72.5 million, seven-year contract on Aug. 22, the largest deal for a Cuban defector.