Despite Alvarez homer, Pirates fall to Cubs
CHICAGO — Pedro Alvarez hit his 22nd home run, but Cubs left fielder Alfonso Soriano one-upped him with a pair of two-run shots off Charlie Morton to hand the Pirates a 4-1 loss Saturday at Wrigley Field.
Morton put the leadoff man on base in each of the first five innings. The Cubs left a runner on third after a leadoff walk in the first, Morton got a double play to end the second, and he retired three straight after giving up a leadoff single in the third.
Anthony Rizzo doubled to lead off the fourth, however, and Soriano hit his first home run of the day to center field to erase a 1-0 Pirates lead. Morton (1-2), making his fifth start since coming off Tommy John surgery, appeared to be in trouble but again got a double play before getting pitcher Edwin Jackson (5-10) to ground out to shortstop for the final out.
Soriano hit his second home run of the game, this one landing at the back of the left-field bleachers, to make it 4-1 in the fifth. It was his 32nd multi-home run game, moving him into a tie with Harold Baines for 59th place on the all-time list with 384.
“He can hit. He's been in the game a long time. He's a really good ballplayer,” Morton said of Soriano. “Really, the scoring plays were home runs. What I need to do and what I do well usually is keep the ball in the park, and I didn't do that.”
Pirates starters hadn't allowed more than three earned runs since June 12, a span of 20 games.
Morton was at 85 pitches through five innings but came out for the sixth. He allowed seven hits, walked three and struck out six in six innings.
“We got him up around 100 pitches,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “I actually sent him back out for the sixth inning because he needed to pitch. He also only pitched two innings last Sunday (in a game delayed by rain for more than two hours), and that hurt Charlie as far as the continuity.”
Alvarez, who joined pitchers Jason Grilli and Jeff Locke and outfielder Andrew McCutchen in being named All-Stars, is eight home runs shy of tying his total of 30 home runs in 149 games in 2012. He is tied with the Reds' Jay Bruce for most home runs (52) among National League players since the beginning of last season.
The Pirates totaled just five hits off Jackson (5-10), including Alvarez's two-out home run in the fourth inning.
“Every time it came to a push situation, he made a pitch,” Hurdle said of Jackson. “When he needed to make pitches, he did. We didn't create any type of offensive rhythm. Every time we thought that maybe we had a chance to extend an inning and move the chains, Jackson made a pitch and got an out or got out of an inning.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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