Posts Tagged ‘Neil Walker’

Morton roughed up in return vs. Crew

August 30, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — Three months away didn’t change much for Charlie Morton.

Whatever the Pirates right-hander had going for him in 14 starts with Triple-A Indianapolis seemed to escape him on Sunday as the Pirates lost, 8-4, to the Brewers at Miller Park.

Morton (1-10) delivered one of his roughest performances of the season in the series finale, surrendering eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits, with one walk and two strikeouts over just 3 1/3 innings of work.

“[Morton] just didn’t execute quality pitches,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “I think he threw a few too many offspeed pitches and didn’t really get aggressive with his fastball. Just not enough quality pitches. When he throws that many offspeed pitches, then he loses the aggressiveness of really being able to pound the zone.”

After leading off the inning with a hit batter, Morton gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Braun in the fourth, which spelled the end of his outing.

Things didn’t go any smoother in the first three innings for Morton, either.

After retiring the first batter he faced, Morton allowed three singles and a walk in a four-batter span. Coupled with a throwing error charged to Morton himself, the Brewers put three runs on the board in the bottom of the first.

Following a four-batter second inning, the third inning featured four singles, a stolen base and a passed ball, all of which amounted to another three runs for the Brewers. All this came after a two-run homer in the first by Neil Walker, which gave Morton a lead to work with early on.

According to Morton, some early success by the Brewers when he threw his fastball led to him changing the way he approached hitters.

“Early on, they seemed to be on my four-seamer pretty good,” Morton said. “I was throwing my sinker, but I was falling behind in some counts. With my sinker, I was inducing less firm contact, but I got beat bad on a couple curveballs I left up in the zone.”

In two starts this season for Morton against the Brewers, the results have not been pretty. On April 20, he allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits and three walks in one inning of work, facing 12 batters and tossing 58 pitches before being removed in the second inning of the Pirates’ 8-1 loss.

For the season, Morton has given up 12 earned runs on 15 hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings of work against the Brewers, good for an 0-2 record and a 24.94 ERA.

Overall this season, Morton drops to 1-10 with a 10.03 ERA, allowing 52 earned runs on 75 hits over 46 2/3 innings pitched. In 14 starts for Indianapolis between his late May demotion and Sunday’s loss, Morton was impressive, posting a 3.82 ERA as he allowed 34 earned runs on 83 hits over 80 innings of work. Morton also recorded 53 strikeouts against 30 walks.

While his manager said he would get another chance to start, Morton’s return did not exactly go as the 26-year-old right-hander would have liked.

“To come back and work at getting back, obviously the first start back you want to do better than I did today,” said Morton, who was coming off a six-inning outing for Indianapolis in which he allowed zero runs on four hits with four strikeouts.

Ryan Doumit added a solo homer in the fourth and Delwyn Young added another in the seventh, but that was all the offense the Pirates would muster for the game.

Brewers starter Dave Bush wasn’t sharp, but he tossed seven innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. All the damage done by the Pirates against Bush came on Walker, Doumit and Young’s three home runs.

With the loss, the Pirates dropped their 13th consecutive road contest, which amounts to the club having been swept in each of its past four series on the road since taking two of three in Colorado on July 27-29.

It also marks the third time this season the Pirates have been swept by the Brewers, with the other two coming April 20-22 at PNC Park and July 9-11 at Miller Park. Since snapping a 22-game road losing streak to the Brewers on April 27, the Pirates have gone 4-9 against Milwaukee and 1-6 at Miller Park.

The consensus in the visitors’ clubhouse over the past three days has been that things never seem to come easy when the Pirates face the Brewers, regardless of the outcome.

“When I got here in ’06, I was told it had been the other way around, that we couldn’t really beat the Pirates at all,” Bush said. “I didn’t know any better, but I remember hearing guys talk about it. We won a few games that year, and guys seemed relieved by it, I guess.

“It’s turned around a little bit in the past few years. I know we had that really long winning streak against them broken up [22 consecutive home wins], and since then we’ve had some really good games. There have been some heated games, and some good games back and forth.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Errors costly in Bucs’ extra-inning loss

August 29, 2010 Comments off

MILWAUKEE — One bad inning is all it takes to send you from a win to a loss. Within that inning, it’s often one hit or one defensive play that makes the difference.

It took two innings and two defensive miscues to complete the job on Saturday, but the seventh inning made all the difference for the second consecutive night at Miller Park as the Pirates lost, 8-7, to the Brewers.

On Friday, it was a six-run rally highlighted by a misplayed line drive to right field that turned into a game-winning two-run triple. In the second game of the series, a pair of errors by rookie infielders Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker allowed the Brewers’ tying and winning runs to score, respectively.

“We always know every time we come here it’s going to be a battle,” Walker said. “Four-run lead, three-run lead, whatever it may be, it’s never safe here when we play these guys.”

In a long game that featured 14 pitchers, 21 position players and lasted more than four hours, lefty reliever Wil Ledezma finally surrendered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th to rookie center fielder Lorenzo Cain, scoring Ryan Braun from second and sending the Brewers fans among a crowd of 37,782 home happy.

“That was awesome — my first Major League walk-off,” said Cain, who also scored the tying run in the seventh.

Without a fielding error by Walker at second base, the 11th inning may have turned out much differently. As Prince Fielder ripped a grounder toward the rookie second baseman, Walker misplayed it, allowing Braun to advance and putting Fielder aboard safely at first.

“It’s a play I’ve got to make. Plain and simple,” Walker said. “I’ll take the blame. We played our butts off today and a couple of mistakes just cost us the game.”

The other mistake for the Pirates came in that crucial seventh inning.

Entering the seventh inning, lefty Zach Duke was in line for his first career win at Miller Park and the Pirates led by three runs, sitting just three innings from their first road win since July 28 at Colorado.

But after reliever Sean Gallagher gave up a leadoff single to Braun, he was removed in favor of left-hander Brian Burres. As Burres hung a 1-2 slider on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Fielder didn’t miss it, sending the ball an estimated 455 feet to right-center field for his second home run of the game and his 20th career multi-homer game.

Four batters later, Chan Ho Park appeared to have gotten out of the inning, but a fielding error charged to Alvarez on a hard hit grounder to third allowed Cain to tie the game at 7.

“It’s a tough play, but again, it kind of shows our youth a little bit,” said Pirates manager John Russell. “We make those plays and it might be a different game, but the guys really battled. They kept after it.”

While he would have gotten the win had it not been for the seventh inning, Duke was not exactly sharp.

He allowed four runs on nine hits while walking one, recording one strikeout and surrendering a pair of solo home runs.

“It was definitely a battle from the first hitter on,” Duke said. “My location wasn’t very good and my stuff wasn’t all that great. Everything was giving me problems.”

Despite his struggles, Duke did outduel Brewers starter and fellow lefty Chris Capuano.

Starting in place of Manny Parra for Milwaukee, Capuano was roughed up for six runs on six hits in just three innings of work while walking three and giving up two home runs.

“I had flashes tonight where I thought I had great sequences to guys, and then I had flashes where I was having some problems with command,” Capuano said. “I have to do a better job than that. That’s obvious.”

Parra replaced Capuano in the fourth, and proceeded to put down nine of 10 batters faced through three innings of work. He gave up just one hit, a fourth-inning single to Walker, while striking out three batters.

Left fielder Jose Tabata highlighted the Pirates’ offensive outburst, as he homered in the first inning and finished 3-for-5, adding a double and a single. Catcher Chris Snyder also added his second home run of the series in the third, a three-run shot that put the Pirates up, 6-2, at the time.

Walker added a solo homer in the seventh — which appeared to be insurance for the Pirates — off reliever Mike McClendon. Seven runs marked the most scored by the Pirates since a 7-1 victory over the Marlins on Aug. 16.

The loss is the 12th straight on the road for the Pirates, and secures yet another road series loss for Pittsburgh. In 21 road series this season, including the current three-game set with the Brewers, the Pirates now have lost 16 series with just four series wins and one tie.

“It’s tough coming in here, but we battled with them tonight,” Duke said. “Hopefully we can get one tomorrow.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.