Morton remains unbeaten as Pirates top Brewers 2-0
PITTSBURGH (AP) Charlie Morton is not a complicated guy. When his sinker is working, the Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander is effective. When it's not, his night tends to end shortly after it begins.
It's been that way for most of Morton's uneven eight-year career. Finally healthy and mechanically sound after an injury shortened 2014, Morton's favorite pitch is finding the strike zone consistently. The results have quickly followed suit.
Morton scattered three hits in 7 1-3 innings to remain unbeaten in his return from hip surgery as the Pirates beat the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0 on Wednesday night.
Morton (4-0) struck out six and walked three to win his fourth straight start since coming off the disabled list last month and fifth straight dating back to his final start of 2014. He didn't allow a hit until Aramis Ramirez led off the fifth with a single up the middle as Pittsburgh salvaged the final game of the series against the last-place Brewers.
''I don't think we're scuffling I just think we caught a couple tough ones,'' Morton said. ''I felt like I went out and did my job and minimized damage and limited their offense. I don't feel like the guy or anything. I feel like I just went out and did my job.''
Heady stuff for a guy who spent most of 2014 pitching through a series of problems that weren't corrected until he underwent hip surgery in September. He needed extra time out of spring training to rebuild his delivery but dazzled in three minor league starts and the momentum has continued to build for a team looking for stability at the back end of its starting rotation.
''I think early in games that I am thinking about things a little bit because I want to make sure I get in a groove mechanically,'' Morton said. ''I want to get things straight. As the game goes on, you just get more competitive and that takes over.''
Morton's only spot of trouble came in the eighth when a walk and a single put runners on first and second with one out. Reliever Tony Watson needed just two pitches to produce an inning-ending double play and Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save.
Pedro Alvarez hit his 10th homer of the season. Jordy Mercer and Jung Ho Kang added three hits apiece for the Pirates. Melancon has converted a career-best 17 straight save opportunities after a sluggish start.
Kyle Lohse (3-7) dropped his third consecutive decision while falling to 0-3 against Pittsburgh this season. He gave up an RBI single to Starling Marte in the first and a 438-foot homer to Alvarez leading off the second.
''Personally that was grinding,'' Lohse said. ''That was what I do when I'm not on my best stuff. Basically just changeup and just try not to get hurt with guys on base with anything else. Those are things I need to get back to and it'll get easier when I have all my pitches working.''
Milwaukee right fielder Ryan Braun went 0 for 2 before leaving in the top of the sixth with dizziness. Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Braun was dealing with fluid in his ear and is ''day to day.''
''He was just light-headed, really light-headed so I don't think it's anything serious,'' Counsell said. ''He couldn't continue.''
The Pirates held a moment of silence before the game following the passing of former club CEO Douglas Danforth, who died on Tuesday at age 92 following a brief illness. Danforth helped form a public-private ownership group that helped keep the team in Pittsburgh after the Galbreath family put the club up for sale. He served as the team's chairman of the board from 1987-92.
''I will forever owe him a debt of gratitude,'' Pirates owner Bob Nutting said in a statement. ''The Pirates likely would not exist in Pittsburgh had it not been for his leadership and influence.''
Brewers: Begin a six-game homestand on Thursday when they start a four-game set with Washington. Matt Garza (4-7, 5.09 ERA) is 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals. Tanner Roark (2-2, 3.16) pitches for Washington.
Pirates: Off Thursday before hosting Philadelphia for three games starting on Friday. The teams split a four-game series in Philadelphia last month. Jeff Locke (3-3, 5.37 ERA) starts for Pittsburgh on Friday against Kevin Correia. Correia, who signed with the Phillies on Monday, went 24-22 with the Pirates in 2011-12 and made the 2011 NL All-Star team.