PITTSBURGH (AP) Andrew McCutchen's left elbow is bruised, but not busted after getting hit by a pitch on Saturday. Still, the star center fielder for the Pirates is growing tired of becoming a target whenever he steps into the batter's box.
''Maybe I need to dropkick a pitcher,'' McCutchen said. ''Maybe that will scare them into not throwing at me.''
The 2013 NL MVP was kidding. Besides, his teammates had his back. Starling Marte got three hits and scored three times after McCutchen's departure, helping Pittsburgh to an 8-4 victory over the Atlanta Braves.
Pittsburgh ripped off five runs in the first inning after McCutchen was plunked by a 92 mph fastball from Julio Teheran, an emphatic response after McCutchen was hit for the eighth time this season and the second time in as many nights.
''I'm not the only one ticked off,'' McCutchen said. ''We're all ticked off. It's not just me. It's anyone that gets hit and comes out of the game. That's something we don't like.''
Jordy Mercer, Francisco Cervelli and Pedro Alvarez each drove in two runs for Pittsburgh. Charlie Morton (6-1) pitched into the seventh to bounce back from a rough start in Washington last weekend.
Teheran (5-4) gave up six runs in six innings, unraveling briefly after tagging McCutchen.
''I didn't know that my two-seamer was moving that much so it was the first one I threw in the game,'' Teheran said. ''I feel bad that I hit him. It's part of the game and you don't want that to affect you.''
McCutchen doesn't wear an elbow pad because of the way it inhibits his swing. He was doubled over for several moments after getting hit for the 48th time in his career.
When the numbness persisted, he was helped off by trainers. X-rays were negative, but he is not certain if he will be able to start the series finale on Sunday.
The play seemed to get Pittsburgh's attention. Marte singled home Neil Walker to give the Pirates the lead, and they were just getting started. Alvarez followed with a two-run double, Cervelli had an RBI single and Mercer drove in another run with a crisp single up the middle.
''I think it was a real nice push for our guys to answer in that fashion,'' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.
Morton, who was knocked around for nine runs in less than an inning by the Nationals in his previous start, was far crisper this time out.
Staked to a sizable lead, Morton hit Andrelton Simmons in the foot in the second inning. Home plate umpire John Tumpane issued a warning to both dugouts. Things settled down quickly.
Nick Markakis had an RBI single for Atlanta in the third, but Marte scored on a delayed double steal - helped by a botched throw home from first baseman Joey Terdoslavich - to make it 6-1. It was the first steal of home by the Pirates since McCutchen did it against the Chicago Cubs on July 5, 2013.
''You've got to be bold and aggressive,'' Hurdle said. ''I don't believe in a safety break.''
Morton's control abandoned him in the seventh. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs, and Jace Peterson doubled to get Atlanta within 6-4, but the Braves would get no closer.
Williams Perez expected some discomfort the day after the rookie Atlanta pitcher took a liner off his left foot in the fifth inning on Friday night. X-rays revealed no fractures, and Perez put on a walking boot as a precaution. The boot helped. It just didn't prepare Perez for what awaited when he opened his eyes on Saturday.
''It was worse than I thought it was going to be,'' Perez said.
While Perez felt he ''dodged a bullet,'' he couldn't avoid some unwanted time off. The Braves placed him on the 15-day DL and called up 27-year-old rookie reliever Jake Brigham from Triple-A Gwinnett. Manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't sure Perez needs the entire 15 days to heal from the bone bruise, but didn't want the Braves to be short a man for an extended period. Gonzalez isn't sure who will take Perez's spot in the rotation when it comes up again Thursday against Washington.
The series wraps up Sunday when Atlanta's Alex Wood (4-5, 3.44 ERA) faces Jeff Locke (4-3, 4.73 ERA). Wood has lost three straight decisions, including a 3-0 defeat against the Pirates on June 7. The Braves have knocked around Locke at times. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 6.08 ERA in five starts against Atlanta. The lone victory was a 2-1 triumph on Oct. 1, 2012, that was Locke's first major league victory.