PITTSBURGH (AP) — Charlie Morton retired his final 11 batters over seven strong innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates maintained the best record in the majors with a 4-2 victory over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.
Morton (4-3) shook off a shaky beginning in which he allowed six hits over his first three-plus innings to beat Miami for the second time in an 11-day span.
Morton, who also had an RBI single, did not walk a batter and had five strikeouts in allowing two runs on six hits. Justin Wilson pitched a perfect eighth, and Mark Melancon was aided by Neil Walker’s catch on Giancarlo Stanton’s line drive in earning his seventh save.
Second baseman Walker went to his right to stab a ball that was heading up the middle, then in one motion quickly threw to first to double up Ed Lucas.
Andrew McCutchen homered for the Pirates (69-44), who have won four straight and are a season-high 25 games over .500.
Christian Yelich had two hits for Miami, which has lost four in a row.
The go-ahead run came sprinting home in the Pittsburgh fifth when Tom Koehler’s pitch to Starling Marte almost struck Marte in the face as he squared around to bunt.
Marte went down hard, and as the ball went to the backstop he jumped up to get out of the way as Jordy Mercer ran in from third.
That was one of two wild pitches by Koehler (3-7), who also hit a batter and allowed four hits and a walk in five innings. The rookie was the losing pitcher the previous time Morton beat Miami less than two weeks prior.
The Marlins had a single during each of the first three innings against Morton, and they took a 2-0 lead when they opened the fourth inning with three consecutive hits. Donovan Solano drove in Stanton with a bloop single over Walker’s head, and Logan Morrison scored when Adeiny Hechavarria followed by grounding into a double play.
With one out and no one on in the fourth, McCutchen took a 3-1 pitch to right-center for his 16th home run, the second homer allowed by Koehler in his past seven starts.
McCutchen added an infield single in the eighth, and Pedro Alvarez followed with a sacrifice fly to pad the Pirates’ lead. McCutchen, who is batting .359 at home this season, has a streak of five straight multihit games.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed by rain for 36 minutes. ... Pirates LHP Wandy Rodriguez, on the disabled list since June 11 because of left forearm tightness, threw off a mound for the first time in his rehabilitation Tuesday. ... The Marlins have lost five straight at PNC Park, dating to last season. ... Two of the top rookie starters in the National League will pitch the series finale Thursday — Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole (5-5, 3.69) and Miami’s Jose Fernandez (8-5, 2.54). They faced each other July 28 at Marlins Park, when Fernandez had 13 strikeouts in a 3-2 victory.