Charlie Morton pitched brilliantly in 7.2 innings of one-run baseball as the Pirates defeated the Astros 6-1 at PNC Park Saturday night.
Morton struck out five batters and walked one, not only racking up grounders as he has all year, but also throwing strikes. He had kept runs off the board throughout much of the year so far, but had had starts where he walked many more batters than he struck out, suggesting that his strong run would be unsustainable unless he altered his approach. Saturday's start might begin to ease those concerns somewhat.
The Pirates' offense gave him plenty of support despite nine strikeouts by Astros starter Bud Norris, who is emerging as one of the National League's better young starters. Lyle Overbay hit a solo homer in the second, and Andrew McCutchen tacked on a two-run double later that inning.
The Astros narrowed the lead with an RBI single by Carlos Lee in the eighth, but reliever Jose Valdez walked two batters in the bottom of the inning, leading to a two-run double by Brandon Wood and a run scored by Chris Snyder on a wild pitch. Daniel McCutchen pitched an uneventful ninth to finish the game.