ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 4: Starter Charlie Morton #50 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 4, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Pirates Vs. Cardinals: Charlie Morton Keys 4-3 Win

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Cardinals: Charlie Morton Strong Through Six As Pirates Win, 4-3

Pirates starting pitcher Charlie Morton allowed five walks in six innings, but otherwise pitched very well in his first start of the 2011 season as the Bucs beat the Cardinals 4-3.

Morton allowed one run on three hits, and he kept the Cardinals from making solid contact, racking up a remarkable 15 ground-ball outs. He relied very heavily on fastballs and sinkers, throwing many fewer breaking pitches and changeups than he threw last year. Basically, he looked like a different pitcher, and that bodes well for the Pirates’ season.

All the Pirates’ offense came in the sixth, as Neil Walker hit a two-run double and then Andrew McCutchen drove him home with a two-run bomb. Walker and McCutchen have both started the season very hot, with seven extra-base hits between them.

The Bucs took a three-run lead into the eighth, but more struggles from Evan Meek – who was the key culprit in the Pirates’ eighth-inning collapse against the Cubs Saturday – allowed two runs to come home. Manager Clint Hurdle pulled Meek after three batters, however, and Mike Crotta and Joel Hanrahan shut down the Cardinals for the last two innings.

For more on the Bucs, head over to Bucs Dugout.

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Pirates Vs. Cardinals: Bucs Face Off Against Albert Pujols

After taking two of three from the Cubs, the Pirates begin a three-game set in St. Louis against the Cardinals. Tonight at 8:15 (on Root Sports and 104.7), Charlie Morton makes his first start of the season against Kyle Lohse. Lohse had a poor season last year, so this would seem to be a good opportunity for the Pirates, but obviously, no start involving Charlie Morton is a sure thing. Both Morton and Lohse are coming off strong performances in Spring Training.

The real problem anytime the Pirates face the Cardinals is, of course, Albert Pujols, who has a lifetime 1.156 OPS against the Bucs. Pujols is off to a slow start this year at 2-for-13, but he already has one home run.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette speculates that Andrew McCutchen, who missed yesterday's game with neck trouble after diving at Wrigley on Saturday, will be back today.

For more on the Cardinals, check out Viva El Birdos and this Q+A on the Cards over at Bucs Dugout.

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