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Pedro Alvarez Has Big Day As Pirates Split Doubleheader

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PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 25:  Charlie Morton #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the second game of a doubleheader on April 25, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 25: Charlie Morton #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Colorado Rockies during the second game of a doubleheader on April 25, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Pedro Alvarez homered and doubled and Charlie Morton pitched seven strong innings as the Pirates won 5-1 (five!) in the second game to split a doubleheader with the Rockies.

At first it looked like a typical 2012 Pirates game, with no runs through four and with Rod Barajas in particular blowing a great chance to score in the second, popping out to second with no outs and men on second and third.

The Bucs scored all five of their runs in the fifth. Alex Presley doubled with one out, and Nate McLouth doubled as well when Carlos Gonzalez lost his fly ball in the sun. Andrew McCutchen then hit a shallow fly ball that fell in when Gonzalez didn't see it. (Gonzalez probably isn't too happy with the sun right now, but the sun doesn't care, because it knows Gonzalez needs it for warmth and stuff.) Garrett Jones then golfed a pitch deep into the right-field stands to make it 4-0, and Alvarez clanked the ball off the foul pole to give the Pirates back-to-back homers and make it 5-0.

Morton allowed a run on a solo homer by Ramon Hernandez in the seventh, but overall, he was terrific, and David was right to note that, for all the complaining we've done about the Pirates' offense, it's also worth pointing out that their starting pitching has been excellent, and the performances by Morton and James McDonald today were good examples of that. Morton's breaking ball looked fantastic today -- it was breaking so much that batters were getting fooled by balls that came right over the plate. Brad Lincoln pitched the last two innings and was regularly touching 96 (!) in the ninth.

As for Alvarez, after his performance today, he has four homers and a .444 slugging percentage. His batting average is still just .156, but, you know, baby steps. His double in the seventh was also CarGo-aided, as Gonzalez for some reason jogged toward the ball and let it fall a few steps behind him, but Alvarez hit it to the track, and the hit came on a fastball, not a breaking pitch.

UPDATE from David: As required, Jared Hughes was optioned back to AAA after today's games. The Pirates are now back to a 25-man roster. His 10-day recall period since being sent down was frozen for the day and will restart tomorrow.