For Charlie Morton's first handful or so of starts back from Tommy John surgery, I thought that the increased velocity that he was showing without losing the increased sink that he'd picked up on his fastball before the injury was an awfully good sign. The last few times out, he's really started to put everything together. This afternoon, he shut the Brewers down over seven innings, holding them to one earned run (the unearned run was truly of the unearned variety, with Pedro Alvarez misplaying a throw into the stands for a two-base error) on seven hits, six strikeouts, two walks, and an 11:2 groundout:flyout ratio. That's the sixth such start in a row that Morton's turned in, which is just really spectacular stuff from a guy that I think most people thought would be non-tendered over the winter due to his elbow injury.
The Bucs fell behind 1-0 in the second, but Morton stopped the bleeding there and gave the offense plenty of room to catch up. The Pirates scored in both the third and the fifth with Jose Tabata singling in Clint Barmes. When Tyler Thornburg came out of the game in the seventh inning, Charlie Morton started the inning off with a hit off of Tom Gorzelanny, who immediately left with an injury. Tabata followed that up with his third single of the game off of Alfredo Figaro, then Neil Walker blasted a three-run homer to right-center to put a nice little bow on a Labor Day win. All that Alvarez's error really did was create a save situation for Mark Melancon, who pretty honestly probably could've used the work to stay fresh anyway.
The Cardinals got crushed by the Reds this afternoon, which means that the Pirates are all alone in first place. We are officially at the point of the season where a recap of the Pirate game is not complete if it doesn't include the outcome of the Cardinals' game.