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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.

Photographs by dizfunk used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.