After struggling on the road for almost a month, the Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a strong start on their seven-game California trip.
The NL Central-leading Pirates look to continue that success Friday night against the San Francisco Giants .
Pittsburgh (75-52) had dropped eight of 10 away from PNC Park before taking two of three at San Diego this week then rolling to a 10-5 win at San Francisco on Thursday. Jose Tabata 's three-run double highlighted the Pirates' seven-run fifth inning that broke open a game tied at 3.
"This team, we believe in us and whatever it's going to take," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We don't always know how it's going to happen but we're going to keep playing and covering each other's back and keep having fun along with it."
Pittsburgh, 33-30 on the road, has a one-game lead over St. Louis in the Central.
Mired in a 6-for-40 slump on the road prior to the opener, Tabata had three hits. He was 1 for 19 in his previous five career games versus San Francisco.
With two hits and two RBIs on Thursday, teammate Pedro Alvarez matched last season's career high of 85 RBIs. He is 6 for 14 with six RBIs against the Giants (56-71) in 2013.
The Pirates hope Charlie Morton (4-3, 3.67 ERA) can deliver a fourth straight strong start when he takes the mound Friday. The right-hander has allowed two runs in each of his last three starts and gone 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA during that span.
He lasted seven innings and struck out six during a 4-2, 16-inning loss to Arizona on Sunday.
Morton fell to 2-4 with a 3.12 ERA against the Giants after he allowed four runs - two earned - in five innings of a 10-0 loss June 13.
While Pittsburgh continues its attempt at securing the club's first postseason appearance since 1992, the reigning World Series champion Giants have lost two straight and 22 of 31 at home.
The disappointment kept coming Thursday when the team announced outfielder Andres Torres could miss the rest of the season with a strained left Achilles' tendon. That came hours before Thursday's starter Matt Cain left in the fourth inning after taking a liner off his pitching arm."It's definitely not what we had planned with Pittsburgh coming in," Cain said.
San Francisco hopes to get back on track behind Madison Bumgarner (11-7, 2.82), who is 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in his last three starts.
A lack of control plagued the left-hander Sunday when he allowed four runs and walked four while throwing 95 pitches over five innings before leaving without a decision in a 6-5 loss at Miami."It seemed like every pitch I threw (Sunday) was just a hair off and in the wrong direction," said Bumgarner, who has failed to record quality starts in two straight outings after doing so in his previous 10. "It was just kind of frustrating for me."
He allowed one run, nine hits and struck out 17 in 13 innings while going 1-1 in his only previous starts against the Pirates in 2011.
San Francisco second baseman Marco Scutaro delivered a tying, two-run single with just his second hit over 17 at-bats Thursday. However, he's batting .310 while hitting safely in eight straight games against the Pirates.
|August 19, 2013||Starling Marte||Day-to-Day||Right hand contusion|
|August 11, 2013||Starling Marte||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hand|
|July 28, 2013||Travis Snider||15-Day DL||Left big toe discomfort|
|July 28, 2013||Michael McKenry||60-Day DL||Left knee surgery - out for season|
|July 23, 2013||Jason Grilli||15-Day DL||Strained right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Neil Walker||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|San Francisco Giants|
|August 22, 2013||Matt Cain||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm|
|August 22, 2013||Andres Torres||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 20, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||Day-to-Day||Sore back|
|August 17, 2013||Chad Gaudin||15-Day DL||Carpal tunnel syndrome|
|August 15, 2013||Sandy Rosario||Day-to-Day||Bruised sternum|
|July 31, 2013||Pablo Sandoval||Day-to-Day||Bruised right heel|
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Clint Barmes gave Charlie Morton a chance to stay in the game.
Barmes hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning, Morton pitched into the eighth and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 on Friday night.
Barmes came up with two runners on and Morton in the on-deck circle. The home run gave Pittsburgh the lead and helped prevent manager Clint Hurdle from going to a pinch hitter.
"I was looking to stay inside," Barmes said. "My mindset at that time was to at least get one of them in, to at least tie it. I saw the slider pretty well. It was a pretty good pitch but I was able to drop the barrel on it and stay inside of it."
Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison each had two hits for the Pirates, who have won four of five and maintained their one-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
Morton (5-3) allowed one run on seven hits, two after the Giants scored their first run, over 7 2-3 innings. He walked one and struck out three.
"I was pretty efficient and the guys were making good plays," Morton said. "It all added up to me going pretty deep. My whole game plan is to keep the ball on the ground."
Over his last four starts, Morton has given up 56 groundballs and 17 flyballs.
Madison Bumgarner (11-8) took a shutout into the seventh and wound up allowing three runs on seven hits over eight innings. He walked four and struck out five.
"I thought I made a good pitch," Bumgarner said. "It was pretty much where I wanted it. He just made an adjustment. That's what makes them so good, there is no one way to beat them."
Roger Kieschnick drove in a run for the Giants, who have lost three straight and five of six overall. Hunter Pence added a pair of hits.
Morton, who has worked through hip and wrist issues, improved to 4-1 over his last eight starts with his longest outing of the season.
"I was very happy for Barmes," Morton said. "We all were, because he's worked so hard. To see him put that swing on the ball, it was a thing of beauty. If he doesn't hit that, I'm out."
Mark Melancon pitched the ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances.
The Giants broke through in the fourth. Buster Posey hit a one-out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch. He scored when Kieschnick's blooper fell safely in short left field.
The Giants had runners on in each of the first four innings. Following Kieschnick's RBI single, Morton retired 12 of the next 13 before giving up a double to Brandon Crawford with two outs in the eighth.
Tony Watson entered the game and struck out Brandon Belt to end the inning.
Bumgarner retired 14 of 16 before giving up consecutive singles to Gaby Sanchez and Harrison ahead of Barmes' three-run shot in the seventh.
Russell Martin has thrown out a major-league leading 26 runners after getting both Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco .
McCutchen extended his hitting streak against the Giants to 10 games and is hitting .475 (19 for 40) over that stretch.
NOTES: Pirates RHP Jason Grilli is scheduled for a bullpen session on Sunday and could throw a simulated game in his following appearance. ... Pirates OF Starling Marte has not played in five days because of a right hand contusion. Marte leads the league in hitting (.407) against left-handers. ... Pirates IF Jordy Mercer made his first MLB start at 3B. ... LHP Francisco Liriano (14-5, 2.53) gets the start against the Giants, the team who signed him, on Sunday. ... RHP Tim Lincecum (6-13, 4.53) goes for the Giants on Saturday. ... RHP Yusmeiro Petit was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to replace Giants RHP Matt Cain , who went on the DL. The Giants also recalled LHP Mike Kickham and optioned IF Nick Noonan . ... Giants LHP Jeremy Affeldt (groin strain) is close to resuming baseball activities and could return to the bullpen Sept. 1. ... Giants OF Angel Pagan (left hamstring surgery) had his rehab transferred to Fresno from the Arizona Rookie League.