by R.B. Fallstrom
Associated Press Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP)—Charlie Morton faced down a Cardinals lineup that had been batting .540 against him, showing them he’s no punching bag.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ right-hander won his first road game since the end of 2009 in a 47-degree chill and the offense stunned St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse with a four-run sixth inning in a 4-3 victory Monday night.
“He did everything you could have hoped he would have done,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He pitched an outstanding game.”
|OPENING DAY BLAST—Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen celebrates with Neil Walker his two-run home run off Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, during the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs, April 1, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
In a span of four pitches, Lohse (0-1) issued his first walk all year, then allowed Neil Walker’s two-run double and Andrew McCutchen’s second homer to put Pittsburgh ahead 4-1.
“I made a couple of bad pitches,” Lohse said. “It’s a tough one to take, but there’s some positives.”
Joel Hanrahan got four outs to preserve a one-run lead for his third save in three chances for the Pirates, who are 3-1 on the road to start the year after going a major league-worst 17-64 away from home last season.
“It’s great to get off to a start like this on the road, especially with the teams in our division,” McCutchen said. “To be able to do this is showing that we’re growing as a team and we’re getting better.”
McCutchen, who was scratched from the lineup Sunday against the Chicago Cubs because of a stiff neck, also homered in the Pirates’ season-opening win Friday against the Cubs.
The Cardinals were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and 2 for 16 with men on base against Morton (1-0) and four relievers. Albert Pujols was 0 for 3 with a walk and is 2 for 16 with a homer and one RBI thus far.
“I wanted him to hit it,” Morton said. “I wanted to throw him a good sinker and have him hit it, and he did.”
Morton was 2-12 with a 7.57 ERA last year and 0-8 with a 9.00 ERA on the road. St. Louis starters were batting a collective .540 against him entering the game, but they totaled a run on three hits in six innings and failed to take advantage of five walks.
“I can’t really pinpoint one thing that’s made me more successful,” Morton said. “I learned a lot last year from going through a lot of bad outings.”
Besides the mental aspect, Morton made a mechanical correction during spring training, lowering his arm slot a bit.
Morton won in April for the first time after entering 0-5 with a 12.57 ERA in five career starts and enjoyed his first success in St. Louis. The road victory was his first since he shut out the Cubs at Wrigley Field to end the ’09 season.
The Pirates were 1-5 in St. Louis last season.