Charlie Morton's terrific start led to a 3-0 Pirates win, but that result was overshadowed by a bunch of hit batsmen and ejections toward the end of the game.
Morton pitched seven innings, striking out seven, walking none, and getting nine ground-ball outs. That line speaks for itself, and it was nice to see Morton get back on track after struggles dating back to late June. Morton put a couple runs on in the third, but otherwise avoided trouble almost completely -- only two runners even got to second base against him.
Meanwhile, the Pirates' offense did just enough against Keyvius Sampson, a former waiver claim making his first career big-league start. In the third, Sean Rodriguez doubled to left, and Gregory Polanco followed two batters later with a walk. Then Starling Marte brought home both runners with a double to center. In the fourth, Neil Walker hit a ball to deep right. It initially looked like a triple, but replays revealed that it had hit a metal bar above the yellow line, giving Walker a solo homer.
For whatever it's worth -- and it hopefully won't be much, but I'm not optimistic -- Pedro Villarreal hit Andrew McCutchen in the eighth inning. Then in the bottom of the inning, Tony Watson hit Brandon Phillips. All that followed on the heels of a bunch of HBPs earlier this series, including Joe Blanton hitting Marlon Byrd last night. Both benches eventually emptied, and for 10 minutes or so, the two teams swarmed around one another as if they were a cloud of tired bees. Nothing really happened, although Rodriguez, Byrd and Joey Votto were eventually ejected.
In the ninth, Mark Melancon gave up a double to Jay Bruce, then hit Tucker Barnhart two batters later. It was pretty obviously unintentional, but he got thrown out anyway (and he was furious -- one doesn't see Mark Melancon angry very often). That meant Joakim Soria had to warm up and enter the game with one out and the tying run at the plate. He got the last two outs without issue, recording his first save as a Pirate, maybe the only one he'll ever get.