Soriano's multi-homer game sinks Pirates, 4-1, against Cubs
July 7, 2013 7:15 AM
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
The Pirates' Jose Tabata steals as Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney applies a late tag.
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
The Pirates' Starling Marte responds to a call by third base umpire Vic Carapazza after being tagged out trying to steal third base during the third inning.
By Michael Sanserino Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
CHICAGO -- Charlie Morton said he wishes he could have two pitches back. But he would have to wrestle some souvenir hawks in the bleachers to get them.
Slugging outfielder Alfonso Soriano hit two, two-run home runs off of Morton to lead the Cubs to a 4-1 victory Saturday against the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
For Soriano, 37, it was his 32nd career multi-home run game and sixth against the Pirates (53-33). His first homer of the game in the fourth inning erased an early Pirates lead. His second gave the Cubs (37-48) some breathing room in the fifth.
"Two pitches, it's a whole new ballgame," Pirates catcher Michael McKenry said.
The loss snapped a seven-game road winning streak for the Pirates, who previously lost away from home June 19 at Cincinnati.
Morton allowed four earned runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out six and walking three. It was the first time since June 12 a Pirates starter allowed more than three earned runs in an outing, a 20-game stretch.
Manager Clint Hurdle said Morton was throwing well, but his outing was marred by the two home run pitches.
For his first act, Soriano sent a hanging breaking ball into the bleachers in left-center field to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
It was Soriano's 11th home run of the season and his 175th in eight years with the Cubs, which moved him past Andre Dawson for 12th on the Cubs' all-time list.
The second home run came when he crushed an elevated fastball over the seats in left field.
"Neither of them were bad pitches," Morton said. "But you look back and they weren't good pitches, either. Those were the two that I'd like to have back."
Morton, who is at his best when his sinker works well, was better for most of the game in generating ground balls from batters.
"What I do well usually is keep the ball in the park, and I didn't do that," he said. "That's where I got hurt."
Hurdle called Morton's outing a "mixed bag." He and McKenry said Morton might have struggled dealing with a strange pitching schedule since leaving his previous start after two innings because of a lengthy rain delay.
The Pirates had a chance to climb back into the game in the sixth when a two-out single and a two-out walk put runners on first and second for Pedro Alvarez, who had already homered in the game. But left-handed Cubs reliever James Russell struck out Alvarez to end the inning.
"We didn't create any offensive momentum," Hurdle said.
Cubs starter Edwin Jackson (5-10) allowed one earned run on four hits in 52/3 innings to pick up the win. He struck out three and walked two.
"Every time it came to a push situation, he made a pitch," Hurdle said. "He made pitches. You hear that as a cliché, but it played out right in front of us."
Neil Walker left the game before the fifth after experiencing discomfort and soreness on his right side. Hurdle said Walker sustained the injury while swinging in his final at-bat.
Starling Marte went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games. He also had two steals, his fifth multi-steal game of the season. But he was thrown out while trying to swipe third in the third, a move Hurdle said killed a rally.
Alvarez's 22nd home run of the season gave the Pirates a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Alvarez powered a 93-mph fastball a couple of rows deep in the left-center field bleachers, an opposite-field shot that brought life to what was a slow-moving and quiet game until that point.
But the lead was short-lived.
In the fourth, the Cubs smacked three consecutive hits off of Morton, including Soriano's first home run, to take a lead they would never relinquish.