PITTSBURGH (CBSMiami/AP) – Giancarlo Stanton hit his 13th homer, drove in the Marlins only two and made a highlight-reel catch against the wall in right field. Yet, none of that made a difference as Miami lost 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Memorial Day Monday.
Charlie Morton (1-0) tossed seven strong innings in his return from hip surgery.
He gave up two runs on eight hits, striking out three with no walks.
The 32-year-old’s sinker produced 18 groundball outs in his first start since the end of an injury plagued 2014. Francisco Cervelli had two hits, including a three-run homer, for the Pirates. Pedro Alvarez added his ninth homer of the season for Pittsburgh, which moved back to .500 (22-22). Mark Melancon worked a perfect ninth for his 11th save.
David Phelps (2-2) surrendered four runs in six innings. The Marlins fell to 2-6 under new manager Dan Jennings.
Morton underwent surgery last September to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. The team expected him to be part of the rotation when this season began, but his progress stalled on the eve of the opener and he was placed on the disabled list to work on his mechanics. Morton seemed to find some momentum over his final three rehab starts, going 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA.
That momentum carried over to a team that’s spent the first two months of the season searching for consistency. Morton gave up a first inning run when Dee Gordon led off with an infield single and later scored on a single by Stanton. Morton escaped further damage by getting Justin Bour to hit into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play, starting a pattern that would repeat several times over.
Whenever Miami tried to get something going, Morton would roll out a sinker the Marlins would pound into the dirt. Miami didn’t produce one fly ball out against Morton, Stanton’s home run to the seats in right field in the third marked one of the few times the Marlins got the ball in the air at all.
It played in stark contrast to the performances of teammates Gerrit Cole, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano, who each collected at least 10 strikeouts during a weekend series sweep of the New York Mets.
Cervelli gave Morton some room to work in the second when he sent a Phelps offering over the wall in right to make it 3-1, Cervelli’s first homer with the Pirates and the first given up by Phelps this season. Stanton’s shot drew Miami within 3-2, but Alvarez’s fourth homer in his last eight games just cleared the wall to the left of the notch in left-center to push Pittsburgh’s lead back to 4-2.
Phelps, who had been unbeaten on the road this season, walked two and struck out four.
Marlins: Jennings is optimistic RHP Mat Latos will be back relatively quickly after going on the 15-day DL last Friday with knee inflammation. … RHP Henderson Alvarez continues to work on strengthening exercises for his ailing right shoulder. Alvarez underwent a second MRI on the shoulder on Sunday but it’s still unclear what the next step will be in the evaluation process.
Pirates: With Morton back in the rotation, Pittsburgh is relatively healthy, with outfielder Adam Lambo the only player on the major-league roster on the disabled list. To make room for Morton the Pirates designated RHP Radhames Liz for assignment. Liz was 1-3 with a 3.63 ERA in 11 games in his return to the big leagues after six-year absence.
Miami’s starting pitching situation remains unclear. There are two spots to fill on Tuesday and Wednesday with Latos and Alvarez on the disabled list. Jeff Locke (2-2, 5.28) starts for the Pirates. The 2013 All-Star is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last six starts.
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