Charlie Morton gave the Pirates what they needed Tuesday night and recalled visions of 2011 in the process.
Morton had enough movement on his sinker to keep the Cincinnati Reds on the ground and off the scoreboard, and his control was good enough to keep them off the bases.
Morton's outing contributed to the Pirates' 4-0 win Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.
In 5 1/3 scoreless innings, Morton (1-1) did not walk a batter. He allowed three hits and struck out two.
"I think I got a few ground balls and a few very hard-hit balls right at some people," Morton said.
In four starts against the Reds in 2011, Morton pitched two complete games and allowed three earned runs in 29 innings. That was when Morton's ulnar collateral ligament was intact, or at least in better shape than it was in 2012 before his surgery.
Morton cautioned against equating the start with his performance two years ago.
"I think you look at them individually and see what I was doing well," he said.
Morton made his second start back from Tommy John ligament replacement surgery Tuesday night. In his first start off the disabled list, he allowed four runs, two earned, on seven hits, walking one and striking out five.
Morton said he felt good about the movement on his sinker, a point of focus for him between starts, but wanted better location.
"The location's going to get better, the conviction with the pitch is going to get better," he said.
The Pirates evened the series against the Reds at a game apiece. After three quick runs in the first inning, they were held scoreless for the next five, but Morton and the Pirates bullpen held the lead. Tony Watson struck out three in 1 2/3 innings and stranded two men in scoring position.