PITTSBURGH (Ticker) --
has recovered from his early season struggles.
Morris pitched a nine-hitter for his second straight shutout and
belted a two-run homer as the St. Louis Cardinals cruised to a 6-0 blanking of the
Five days after shutting down the
, Morris (6-3) scattered eight singles and a double en route to his fifth career shutout and fourth complete game of the season. The righthander walked two and struck out three, becoming the first Cardinal to toss consecutive shutouts since
in August 1990.
"Today we picked up right where we left off yesterday," Morris said. "I enjoyed going deep, giving the bullpen a break. I made pitches when I had to today. The defense was awesome. My confidence got me through some difficult at-bats."
The Cardinals' ace, Morris went winless in his first three starts this season. But he has rebounded by going 6-2 in his last eight starts, allowing two runs or less in seven of those outings.
"Matt didn't really struggle as it seemed," Cardinals manager
Tony La Russa
said. "Only one game was below par. A lot of times he pitched good; we just didn't score. It was only his first start he struggled. He's been consistent after that."
St. Louis did all its scoring in the first two innings. Edmonds' blast off Pirates starter
(4-5) in the second provided the final margin.
Suppan (4-5) lost his fifth straight decision as he was roughed up for six runs and eight hits in five innings. He walked two and struck out three.
"I just didn't pitch the ball where I wanted to," Suppan said. "You put your team in a six-run hole, you can't expect to produce a win. You don't have to look beyond that. I'm kind of falling in a difficult hole of late. I just need to keep working and get back to where I was at the beginning of the season."
The Cardinals gave Morris all the offense he needed in the opening inning, scoring three times while sending eight batters to the plate.
Vina opened with a drive off the right field wall that he turned into a triple and Perez followed with a run-scoring single. After
flied out, Edmonds singled and Perez scored when Suppan made an errant throw to third base.
walked and Edgard Renteria stroked an RBI single, making it 3-0. Rolen and Renteria pulled off a double steal, but Suppan averted further trouble by retiring
to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning,
led off with a single to extend his hitting streak to 22 games. Morris immediately erased him by inducing a double play grounder from
With one out in the second, Vina sent a 2-1 pitch from Suppan over the right field wall for his fourth homer. Pujols doubled one out later and Edmonds followed by sending Suppan's next pitch the opposite way over the left field wall for his 10th homer, making it 6-0.
"Morris has been around a long time," Vina said. "He has great stuff. If we can get some runs early with
on the hill, that's a big plus for us."
The Pirates had opportunities to break through against Morris. They had runners in each inning except the seventh and stranded runners in scoring position in the third, fifth and eighth.
"We were able to get off to the big start with three in the first and three in the second," Morris said. "The key is to shut them down early, take the wind out of their sails. It kind of goes along right after that."
"Morris seemed to struggle a bit," Pirates manager
said. "There were chances. But he has the ability to turn it up when he needs to."
A five-time Gold Glover center fielder, Edmonds made a superb running catch to take a hit away from
in the sixth and help preserve the shutout. An inning later, Pujols made a tough catch in left field.
"I think everybody that played made a defensive play," La Russa said. "It was really a strong defensive game for both teams. We had big catches in the outfield and turned some key double plays."