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by Zane Heiple

Photo by Getty Images
Currently in the midst of a six game losing streak, the Pirates were looking to get back on the winning track with a short two game series against the N.L. Central Division leading Reds in Cincinnati.  Charlie Morton, who has been the Buccos strongest pitcher this season, would look to continue giving batters a fit at the plate, while the offense would try to end a futile steak of not producing runs.  The Reds countered with Bronson Arroyo in hopes that he could take down his former club.
During the losing streak, Pittsburgh’s starting rotation has put up good numbers, but with no run support and gaffes by the bullpen, they have not been able to earn wins.  Morton made sure that the bullpen and at least one run would be all the Buccos needed tonight.  A complete game shutout by Charlie and a three run home run by Pedro Alvarez were more than enough as Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati 5-0.
Morton’s complete game was his second of the season.  His final line was nine innings pitched, five hits, two walks and five strikeouts.  Tonight’s win gave him a 5-1 record with a 2.62 ERA.  Charlie has to be one of the early stories for the 2011 season after the debacle that was 2010.  If he continues to pitch this well during the first half of the season I would not be surprised if he is the Pirates representative in Arizona for the All-Star game.
Two big hits are all it took for the offense to come alive tonight.  The first big blast occurred in the fourth inning.  With one out Neil Walker would draw the walk and Lyle Overbay would single.  This would lead to a Pedro Alvarez three run shot to right field to make the score 3-0.  Big hits are what we need out of Pedro, who went 1-4 tonight.  Hopefully this is the start of things coming around for Pedro at the plate.
The second long ball happened in the seventh when Andrew McCutchen hit a two run blast with Ronny Cedeno on third with one out.  Even though Cutch went 1-5 tonight his home run helped close the door on any chance of a Reds comeback.
While Pittsburgh is not a team that’s going to be hitting a ton of home runs over the course of the season it was nice to see them give a pitcher some support tonight.  If this team can score around four runs a game they will have the opportunity to win ball games each night.  Pittsburgh will look to take this short series tomorrow at 12:35 with James McDonald taking the mound.
And…
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!!!