Final

Series: Game 1 of 2

Pittsburgh leads 1-0 (as of 5/18)

Game 1: Wednesday, May 18
Pittsburgh5Final
Cincinnati0
Game 2: Thursday, May 19
Pittsburgh5Final
Cincinnati3

Pirates 5

(19-23, 12-12 away)

Reds 0

(25-18, 15-10 home)

7:10 PM ET, May 18, 2011

Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

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PIT 000300200 5 8 0
CIN 000000000 0 5 0

W: C. Morton (5-1)

L: B. Arroyo (3-4)

Charlie Morton shuts out Reds, ends Pirates' 6-game skid

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- The ball came off Fred Lewis' bat with a sharp crack, and Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton thought: Uh-oh, not again!

Not this time. The ball was caught on the warning track, and Morton had his shutout.

The right-hander shut down Cincinnati's powerful lineup again, throwing a five-hitter for his second career shutout, and Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer Wednesday night, leading Pittsburgh to a 5-0 victory that snapped the Pirates' six-game losing streak.

"He's so effective, especially when he keeps the ball down," Alvarez said.

It helps when the weather cooperates, too.

Morton (5-1) avoided heavy rain for a change and stymied Cincinnati again. He threw a five-hitter for a 6-1 win at Great American Ball Park on April 15, coming within one out of his second career shutout. Jay Bruce homered with two outs in the ninth to end that shutout.

This time, he faced Lewis with two outs in the ninth. He hit a fly ball that Jose Tabata caught on the warning track in left field to finish it off.

"I almost thought when Fred hit that ball it was going to go out," said Morton, who threw 69 strikes out of 106 pitches. "I just looked at it and was, 'Oh, no!' But Tabata was at the warning track and he caught it."

Alvarez ended his streak of 15 games without driving in a run when he connected in the fourth off Bronson Arroyo (3-4), who has been prone to homers this season. Andrew McCutchen added a two-run shot in the seventh.

Arroyo has given up 10 homers, accounting for 16 of the 29 runs he's allowed. Against Morton, there was no margin for error.

"Any way you cut it, when Charlie's throwing that way against us, you can't afford to give up a lot of runs," Arroyo said.

Morton sent the Reds to only their third loss in 14 games. His other shutout was Sept. 30, 2009, at Wrigley Field -- the last complete-game shutout by a Pirates pitcher on the road.

Morton has turned into the Pirates' rainmaker. His start last Thursday against the Dodgers was called after two innings. He was supposed to start Tuesday in Washington, but the game was called because of a threat of rain, pushing him back one day.

"I think it was an advantage to come in and have some rest," Morton said. "Obviously I was worried about feeling rusty. I felt pretty sharp, pretty fresh."

Appropriately, he didn't get through this one without some raindrops. Light rain moved in during the sixth inning, but Morton was in control by then.

The right-hander's sinking pitches have gotten the better of Cincinnati's prolific offense. Morton gets 77 percent of his outs off ground balls, the most in the majors. He kept his infielders busy again on Wednesday -- only seven of Cincinnati's outs came in the air.

"It was good stuff: Ground Chuck," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I'm happy for him. I'm proud of him."

His latest showing was a big relief for the struggling Pirates, who are familiar with long losing streaks. They had four losing streaks of at least seven games last season, including a 12-game slump in June.

Arroyo gave up five runs in seven innings, becoming the first Reds starter to take a loss since May 3. With Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto back from the disabled list, Reds starters had gone unbeaten during the last 13 games -- 8-0 with a 2.37 ERA.

Game notes


It was the third combined shutout by Pirates pitchers this season. The Reds were blanked for only the second time. ... Pirates RHP Evan Meek, on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, fanned three batters in one inning during a minor league rehab appearance on Tuesday night. Manager Clint Hurdle said the reliever will pitch Friday and Saturday and if there's no problem, he'll rejoin the team next week. ... Bruce was a late scratch from the Reds' lineup. He wasn't feeling well. ... Arroyo gave up a pair of singles in the first inning. Reds pitchers have only nine 1-2-3 opening innings in 43 games. ... 2B Brandon Phillips extended his hitting streak to nine games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Game Information

StadiumGreat American Ball Park, Cincinnati, OH
Attendance16,543 (39.1% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
Game Time2:17
Weather59 degrees, overcast
Wind6 mph
UmpiresHome Plate - Laz Diaz, First Base - Scott Barry, Second Base - Sam Holbrook, Third Base - John Hirschbeck

Research Notes

From Elias: Charlie Morton posted his second complete game ROAD win of the season today. The last Pirates pitcher with two such wins before the team's 25th road game of the season was Zane Smith in 1992.
From Elias: The last pitcher to win at least four of his first five ROAD decisions of a season following a winless season on the road the year before (min. 0-8) was Bob Savage in 1947 (also 4-1 and 0-8 in 1946).
Charlie Morton threw his second career shutout Wednesday and tied his career high in wins for a season with five. Last year, Morton didn't win a game on the road, going 0-8. He's now 4-1 this year on the road. He has two complete games in Cincinnati this year.
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