PITTSBURGH -- Perfect for three innings, Pirates starter Charlie Morton's afternoon hit the brakes in the fourth and fifth during an 8-2 loss to the San Diego Padres at PNC Park on Sunday.
The Pirates lost two out of three to the Padres, who won their 14th consecutive series in Pittsburgh and have won 16 of their past 19 games at PNC Park. The Pirates now enter a stretch of games against playoff contenders at 62-55.
Morton allowed five runs and five hits in five innings. He walked one, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, and all three mistakes led to a run.
Morton flattened the Padres for three innings. Not a ball left the infield and he struck out four.
No Padre reached base until Yangervis Solarte walked with one out in the fourth, ending Morton's streak of consecutive outs at 10. A groundout moved Solarte to second and the Padres' first hit, a single from Yonder Alonso, scored a run.
Morton escaped that inning but faltered in the fifth, when the Padres scored four. Abraham Almonte and Rene Rivera singled to start the inning. First baseman Ike Davis retired the lead runner at third on Tyson Ross' sacrifice attempt, but Morton later hit Solarte with a curveball to load the bases.
Seth Smith promptly cleared them. His hit into the left-field corner bounced off the wall and away from Travis Snider, resulting in a three-run triple. Smith scored on a wild pitch and the Padres had a 5-2 lead.
Stolmy Pimentel allowed a run and Jeanmar Gomez two more, but they represented the only two members of the six-man bullpen that had not pitched during the series. The even distribution of two relievers used per game could give the Pirates flexibility for another day in evaluating the injury status of Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen.
As they had the previous two games, the Pirates scored in the first inning. Starling Marte led off with a single and Gregory Polanco homered to right.
Padres starter Tyson Ross allowed nothing else. He finished six innings and allowed six hits and two walks. Ross, an All-Star this season and one of the better starters in the National League, ranked sixth in strikeouts and ninth in innings pitched in the NL entering the game.
The pitchers hit four batters Sunday afternoon. The final one, a 96-mph fastball from Stolmy Pimentel off Seth Smith's leg, caused home-plate umpire Chris Conroy to warn both benches.
Pirates pitchers hit Tommy Medica twice the night before, including Jared Hughes' fastball to the back of the head that forced him from the game. Ross hit Starling Marte and Josh Harrison, both with fastballs up and in. Morton also hit a batter, but did so with a curveball off the foot of the switch-hitting Solarte, who was batting left-handed.
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