PITTSBURGH -- Charlie Morton picked up where Jeff Locke left off. He worked quickly and efficiently against the Chicago Cubs Monday night, dropping his curveball in to generate swings and misses while encouraging grounders with his sinker. With the benefit of run support, which Locke did not receive, Morton earned the win in a 6-2 defeat of the Cubs at PNC Park.
Morton (3-7) pitched seven innings of one-run ball, just like Locke did Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. Morton needed 82 pitches to complete those seven innings; Locke needed 75. Morton, who leads the majors in hit batters, did not hit anyone, nor did he walk one. The consecutive starts were a good sign for a rotation that ranked 13th in the National League with a 4.40 ERA, as well as a bullpen that ranked second in the league in innings pitched.
Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 4 with a home run, a double and three RBIs. He now has 10 extra-base hits in eight games this month.
Ike Davis and Starling Marte both snapped long hitless streaks. Davis broke a streak of 22 hitless at-bats with a solo home run into the shrubbery in the eighth, and Marte went 3 for 4 with two doubles and two RBIs to end an 0 for 23 slump.
The Pirates, who had lost three of four entering Monday's game, improved to 30-33.
Morton cruised through the first three innings, needing only 29 pitches, 22 of which were strikes. Through the first five innings, the only hits he allowed came on a bunt single, a high chopper in front of the plate and a grounder poked down the left-field line away from a defensive shift that ended up as a double.
The efficiency was a departure from his previous three outings. He did not complete six innings in any of them but threw 108, 104 and 98 pitches.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson allowed four run in six innings with eight strikeouts.
Pedro Alvarez led off the bottom of the second with a single. Starling Marte lined a double past a diving Luis Valbuena down the third-base line that scored Alvarez from first, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
Travis Snider and McCutchen both took advantage of outside pitches in the third. Snider hit one for a double that bounced over the wall in left field, and McCutchen poked one down the right-field line for his eighth home run of the season.
McCutchen struck again two innings later. Jackson had retired seven in a row after McCutchen's homer, including four strikeouts, before Snider singled with two outs in the fifth. McCutchen hit a fly ball off the Clemente Wall in right to score Snider and extend the Pirates' lead to 4-0.
The Cubs got one back in the sixth. Anthony Rizzo singled into the shift when his ball deflected off the glove of a diving Alvarez. Starlin Castro's double to the wall in right-center field scored Rizzo and reduced the Pirates' lead to 4-1.
The Pirates scored two runs off Carlos Villanueva in the eight, including Davis' homer and Marte's second RBI double, meaning Jason Grilli got the night off. Jared Hughes pitched the ninth and allowed a solo home run to Starlin Castro, who went 3 for 4.
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