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Morton sinks Padres as Bucs bounce back, 5-2

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Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

One night after Derek Norris ended the Pirates' seven-game winning streak, the Bucs took advantage of a vintage Charlie Morton start to get back in the win column. Morton, in his second start since his return from the disabled list, breezed through seven innings, requiring only 85 pitches to complete seven strong innings. He also induced 16 groundball outs while allowing only three hits, and in the sixth inning he even drove in what would be the game's deciding run.

The Pirates inaugurated the scoring with some two-out lightning in the top of the first inning. Andrew McCutchen singled to right, Starling Marte reached on an error by Will Middlebrooks, and then Neil Walker brought the runner at second home with a single up the middle, which deflected off the glove arm of Padres starter Tyson Ross. The Padres struck back in their half of the inning, as leadoff man Will Venable walked and Yangervis Solarte followed up with a double to the alley in left-center field to bring the speedy Venable around.

The Bucs retook the lead in the top of the second. Jordy Mercer, who continued to show signs of coming out of his season-long slump, singled and stole second, and Josh Harrison reached out and poked a little flare into shallow right field to drive him home. Harrison and Gregory Polanco also stole bases that inning, but it ended without any further runs when Marte hit into a double play with the bases loaded.

The Padres evened the score on an unusual play in the bottom of the fourth. Matt Kemp and Norris singled, the former breaking his bat in the process, and then when Cory Spangenberg hit a chopper to Pedro Alvarez, Pedro went for the force of Norris at second base rather than retiring Spangenberg himself at first. His throw was too low, however, and it struck Norris's helmet and careened into left field. By the time Marte could get the ball back to the infield, Kemp had already come around to score.

Alvarez atoned for his mistake with a one-out double in the sixth inning. Cervelli was hit by a pitch, and Mercer hit an infield single to load the bases for Morton. Charlie rose to the challenge in the mildest way possible, with a Baltimore chop that died on its way to Spangengerg, whose only option was to take the out at first. Harrison hit into yet another double play to extinguish the rally, but it didn't matter, as Morton was cruising. He set the Padres down in order in each of his final three innings. Tony Watson did likewise in the eighth, setting down three consecutive pinch hitters: Clint Barmes, Abe Almonte, and Jedd Gyorko.

A wild Kevin Quackenbush was kind enough to provide two insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning. Harrison recorded an infield single in spite of a valiant effort by Barmes, and then Quackenbush nearly threw the ball away twice on pickoff attempts. Polanco followed with a single to right on an inside-out swing, and then McCutchen smoked a ball to left field and legged it out for a double. A check swing by Marte produced a ground ball to first, resulting in the game's final run.

The Padres briefly threatened in the ninth. With Justin Upton on first, Matt Kemp hit a fly to the warning track in right, but it fell harmlessly into Polanco's mitt and went in the books as just another out. Mark Melancon then struck out yesterday's hero Norris to record his thirteenth save.

The Pirates will try to extend their new winning streak to two games tomorrow, as Jeff Locke takes the hill against Odrisamer Despaigne.