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Familiar story: Pirates lose series to Padres at PNC Park

| Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, 5:03 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Trib Total Media
The San Diego Padres' Yangervis Solarte scores past Pirates catcher Chris Stewart during the fourth inning Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, at PNC Park.

The last time the San Diego Padres dropped a series in Pittsburgh, the Pirates started Chad Hermansen in center field and Jimmy Anderson on the mound. The setting was Three Rivers Stadium.

So yeah, it's been a while.

“It's on our to-do list to win another series against them at home,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We're due.”

Maybe next year.

On Sunday, right-hander Charlie Morton was effective for only three innings, which was two innings more than the Pirates' offense. The Padres pulled away for an 8-2 win.

By taking two of three games, the Padres won their 14th consecutive series at PNC Park. It's the longest active streak in the majors against an opponent in a single location and the longest such streak in Padres history.

“I don't think it's the ballpark,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “I think we're just playing good baseball. There are some guys who've been with this team over the years who like hitting here, they see the ball well. But we have a new collection of players, so you really can't hold true to that fact.”

The Pirates took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Starling Marte singled, and Gregory Polanco hit a towering home run into the right field seats.

It was the third straight game in which the Pirates scored in the opening inning. And for the third game in a row, they were blanked the rest of the way.

“We hit the mistakes early,” Hurdle said. “We weren't able to do anything after that.”

Over the first three innings, nearly every pitch Morton threw was perfect. After that ... well, let's say there were a few pitches Morton would like to do over.

Morton retired the first 10 batters he faced on four strikeouts and six infield grounders.

That all changed when Yangervis Solarte walked with one out in the fourth inning. Morton got only four more outs and put seven men on base.

Solarte scored on the Padres' first hit of the game, a two-out single by Yonder Alonso.

The Padres opened the fifth inning with singles by the Nos. 7 and 8 hitters, Abraham Almonte and Rene Rivera. Both jumped on first-pitch fastballs.

With two outs, Morton plunked Solarte on the foot with an 0-2 curveball.

“It's probably a pitch he'd like to have back,” Black said. “We liked the end result. It got Smitty (Seth Smith) up there with the bases loaded, and that was huge.”

When it comes to mulligans, Morton had a different pitch in mind. After missing with a pair of curveballs, Morton threw Smith a 92 mph fastball.

“I went away with a sinker, and he went with it,” Morton said. “The ball went off the (left field) wall. Cleared the bases. I could second-guess myself, but the only ball that got hit really hard was that 2-0 to Seth.”

Smith's triple gave the Padres a 4-2 lead. Smith scored on a wild pitch.

Morton (5-11) used 37 pitches to roar through the first three innings. He threw 50 over the fourth and fifth.

“It was about the location of his pitches as the outing went on,” Hurdle said. “The sinker away to left-handers started to elevate. The consistency of his sinker and breaking ball wasn't there.

“It was almost like two different outings for him — (innings) one, two and three and then four and five.”

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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