Apparently a Byrd in the batter's box is worth three in the bushes. Marlon Byrd hit a three-run homer into the center field shrubbery in his Pirates debut Wednesday night helping his new team beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-1 at PNC Park. Byrd the power-hitting right fielder the Pirates acquired Tuesday afternoon had a warm welcome in his new city even earning healthy applause after striking out in the fourth inning. But his seventh-inning homer put an exclamation mark on his welcome party. The home run Byrd's 22nd of the season doubled the Pirates' lead and helped them snap a three-game losing streak. The Pirates (77-55) are five victories away from securing their first winning season in 21 years. Byrd's high-flying debut stole the spotlight from starter Charlie Morton who continues to prove he has been the team's most consistent pitcher since the All-Star break. Morton turned in another strong outing allowing one unearned run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Other pitchers have turned in more dominant outings since the All-Star break but Morton has been the most reliable. He is 5-1 with a 3.11 ERA in the season's second half and he has allowed three earned runs or less in all but one of his eight starts. His start Wednesday was among the best. He struck out two batters and walked three. Morton kept the ball on the ground which is a sign that the sinkerballer is pitching well. Of the 17 outs that were a result of balls hit in play 10 came by ground ball. The Brewers (58-74) eventually got to Morton in the seventh inning though they needed some help to score a run. With two outs and runners on the corners catcher Russell Martin made an errant throw to first base while trying to pick off Yuniesky Betancourt allowing Scooter Gennett to score to cut the Pirates lead to 4-1. Morton allowed more than one baserunner on just two occasions and he retired 15 of 17 batters between the first and sixth innings as his offense built him a four-run lead. Jose Tabata's leadoff triple sparked a two-run rally in the fifth inning that let the Pirates get some breathing room. Tabata hit a towering fly ball off the Clemente Wall in right field and he slid into third ahead of the relay throw. He scored two batters later when Josh Harrison singled and Jordy Mercer drove in Harrison with a double to the right field warning track to put the Pirates ahead 4-0.
Byrd's homer helps Pirates beat Brewers, 7-1
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Aug 29