Rallying Pirates thwarted by Braves
ATLANTA - Now it's the Pirates' turn to send a player against his old team.
Moments after the Pirates fell to Nate McLouth and the Atlanta Braves, 4-3, Tuesday night at Turner Field, it was announced that pitcher Charlie Morton would be joining the big-league club.
Morton, one of the three minor-league prospects acquired in the McLouth trade, will start against the Braves tonight in his Pirates' debut.
"He's been throwing the ball very well," manager John Russell said. "It's his time."
Morton, a 6-foot-4 right-hander, was 7-2 with a 2.26 ERA in 11 Triple-A starts. He threw seven scoreless innings Thursday in his only start at Indianapolis, the Pirates' top farm team.
Tom Gorzelanny was returned to Indianapolis to make room for Morton. Jeff Karstens, the scheduled starter for today, will move to the bullpen for long relief.
Russell said the decision to promote Morton was made before Karstens threw 18 pitches out of the bullpen in Monday night's 15-inning game.
The Pirates suffered their second one-run loss in a row despite an effective start from Ross Ohlendorf and a 3-1 lead after five innings.
"It was a great game. We were right in it," Russell said. "I thought Ross pitched a nice game. We just couldn't pull it out."
Ohlendorf didn't allow a walk — after some control problems in his recent starts — and struck out four.
"I threw the ball really well," said Ohlendorf, who allowed three earned runs in six-plus innings. "Probably as well as I've thrown this year. ... My fastball was the best it's been. I felt it was night and day how I threw the ball this start compared to last start."
Nyjer Morgan and Delwyn Young each went 2-for-4, and Robinzon Diaz had a two-run double for the Pirates.
Derek Lowe (7-3), who allowed three runs in seven innings, got the win. Sean Burnett (1-2), one of six relievers who pitched in Monday night's nearly five-hour game, took the loss.
Yunel Escobar went 3-for-4 and put the Braves ahead to stay with a two-run single in the seventh off Pirates reliever Jesse Chavez.
But the Braves had three consecutive singles in the third and the sixth inning, and opened the seventh with a single to end Ohlendorf's night.
A blown call in the eighth inning also hurt the Pirates.
Trailing 4-3 with one out in the eighth, Young hit a sharp grounder that richocheted off third baseman Chipper Jones' glove to shortstop Escobar, who threw to first base. Young appeared to clearly beat the throw. Young and first-base coach Perry Hill argued heatedly with first-base umpire Doug Eddings. Hill was ejected as Russell raced out to argue the play. Adam LaRoche struck out to end the inning.
"It's frustrating," Russell said. "It's a one-run game in the eighth. (Eddings) basically said in so many words he probably missed it."
Said Young, "I don't need to see (the TV replay). I know I was safe."
In the top of the ninth, Diaz reached second base on Jones' two-base error, but Rafael Soriano struck out Jack Wilson to end the game for his fifth save.
Diaz's two-run, two-out double pushed the Pirates ahead, 3-1, in the fourth, but the Braves answered with Brian McCann's run-scoring single in the sixth to make it 3-2.
Ohlendorf's night ended after Matt Diaz singled to open the seventh. Kelly Johnson greeted Burnett with a perfectly placed bunt single and after McLouth walked to load the bases, Escobar singled on Chavez's first pitch to score two runs for a 4-3 Braves lead.
"In terms of pitching, it was about as good as I've felt," Ohlendorf said, "but it obviously wasn't good enough to win."
Note: Reliever Tyler Yates (elbow) will return to Pittsburgh today for medical testing after experiencing pain in his right elbow during a simulated game Tuesday.
How they scored
Pirates first inning (Derek Lowe pitching): With one out, Nyjer Morgan singled to center field. Delwyn Young singled to center field, Morgan to third. Adam LaRoche hit a sacrifice fly to left field, Morgan scored. Pirates 1, Braves 0
Braves third inning (Ross Ohlendorf pitching): With two outs, Nate McLouth singled to right field. Yunel Escobar singled to center field, McLouth to second. Chipper Jones singled to second base, McLouth scored, Escobar to third. Pirates 1, Braves 1
Pirates fourth inning: Delwyn Young singled to left field. Adam LaRoche grounded out to first base, Young to second. Andy LaRoche struck out looking. Eric Hinske walked. Robinzon Diaz doubled to right field, Young and Hinske scored. Pirates 3, Braves 1
Braves sixth inning: Escobar singled to center field. Chipper Jones singled to right field, Escobar to third. Brian McCann singled to right field, Escobar scored, Jones to second. Pirates 3, Braves 2
Braves seventh innings: Matt Diaz singled to center field. (Sean Burnett relieved) Kelly Johnson reaches base on a bunt single to the pitcher, Diaz to second. McLouth walked. (Jesse Chavez relieved) Escobar singled to left field, Diaz and Johnson scored, McLouth to second. Braves 4, Pirates 3