CHICAGO -- Charlie Morton gave up two home runs in a 6-3 loss to the Cubs Friday to open a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
Morton escaped an early jam before loading the bases in the third inning. From there he gave up a two-run double followed by a 378-foot home run to Starlin Castro, which left the Pirates trailing, 5-0.
Jordy Mercer punched back with a three-run homer over the ivy in left center field in the fifth inning after Edwin Jackson issued back-to-back walks. That cut the Cubs lead to 5-3.
But the Chris Coghlan drove another ball out of the park off Morton in the fifth and the Pirates never plated another run.
The club stranded two runners in both the sixth and seventh innings, and hit just 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
The loss was the Pirates fourth in the last five games.
The game pitted Morton against Jackson for the fourth time this season, ranking as the most-seen pairing in the majors this season.
Morton gave up a triple to the corner in right field with one out in the first.
He got out of the jam by striking out Anthony Rizzo on a ball that hit his foot and was originally scored a wild pitch with a run scored.
But a review showed the ball clearly struck Rizzo's foot, and the batter went back to third. Castro popped out to right field to end the inning.
Morton was not so lucky in the third.
He loaded the bases with a pair of singles and a walk before surrendering the double to Anthony Rizzo. Then Castro clocked him for the three-run home run to make it 5-0.
Morton went six innings, gave up eight hits, six earned runs, walked two and struck out six.
Jackson went five innings, gave up five hits, three earned runs, two walks and struck out eight.
Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless seventh inning and Jason Grilli -- who was moved out of the closer's role Friday -- pitched a scoreless eighth.
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