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Morton's solid start, RBI lift Bucs over Padres

SAN DIEGO -- Charlie Morton allowed one earned run over seven innings Saturday and also knocked in a run as the Pirates beat the Padres, 5-2, in front of a sold-out crowd of 43,207 at Petco Park.

Morton (2-0) allowed three hits with one walk and two strikeouts. He got 16 groundball outs. Morton gave the Pirates (26-23) the lead for good when he hit into a fielder's choice in the sixth inning. The Bucs have won eight of their last nine games.

"I expected to do well. That's why I'm here," said Morton, who missed the first month and half of the season recovering from right-hip surgery and was making only his second Major League start of the season. "I really didn't have expectations per se. Just expectations that I'm going to go out there and make good pitches and let the chips fall where they may."

San Diego starting pitcher Tyson Ross (2-5) labored early, allowing runs in each of the first two innings, before settling down. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits in six innings.

Andrew McCutchen reached base four times (two hits, two walks) and knocked in a run with an RBI single in the ninth inning.

Yangervis Solarte had the only RBI in the game for the Padres (24-27), as he doubled in a run in the bottom of the first inning.

Give one, take one: This wasn't the cleanest game defensively. In fact, The Pirates got an unearned run in the first inning when Starling Marte reached on an error by Will Middlebrooks. In the fourth inning, the Padres tied the game on Pedro Alvarez's throwing error, which allowed Matt Kemp to score on a ball hit by Cory Spangenberg.

Video: PIT@SD: Kemp scores on throwing error by Alvarez

Missed opportunities: The Pirates had eight baserunners and five hits against Ross in the first two innings, but were only able to score a pair of runs. The big rally crusher came with the bases loaded, one out and one run scored in the second inning. But Marte smoked a grounder to short. Alexi Amarista stepped on second and fired to first for the inning-ending double play, barely nabbing the speedy Marte.

Video: PIT@SD: Amarista turns inning-ending double play

Rush hour traffic: Ross settled down after a rough start where he loaded the bases in each of the first two innings, as eight of the first 13 Pirates got on base. In fact, Ross needed 22 pitches just to get out of the first inning. He got Marte on a double-play ball to end the second inning, preventing any further trouble. More >

"I didn't quite execute the way I was capable of," Ross said. "That first inning I got two quick outs and I wasn't able to shut the door right there. I've got to do a better job of executing and get the team in the dugout right there."

Quality starts: Morton's seven innings of two-run, three-hit pitching extended the Bucs' streak to 10 in a row. During that span, the starters are 8-0 with a 2.06 ERA and 73 strikeouts. More >

Video: PIT@SD: Morton goes seven innings, fans two

"Their guy was pretty good. He had a lot of movement. He has that in his game, big fastball … sinker with movement. He's tough to square up. He's tough against righties, good sinker to the left. He was on tonight. We couldn't solve him." -- Padres manager Bud Black on Morton

"Charlie gets a lot of the credit [for making his comeback]. Charlie needed to take a step and take ownership of some things as well. He's at a point in time in his career where he's got to have a delivery he believes in. He's got to have a routine that he believes in. We search out answers sometimes, we look for information. But at the end of the day you have to decide what's best for you." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on Morton

Unearned runs are no fun. The Padres pitching staff can certainly attest to that. An error in the first inning Saturday by third baseman Middlebrooks extended the first, allowing Walker to punch an RBI single up the middle with two outs. The error, the team's 29th, led to their 23rd unearned run of 2015.

Video: PIT@SD: Walker's single gives Pirates an early lead

Pirates: The Bucs close the four-game series, and their only visit of the season to Petco Park, with a rare 9:05 p.m. ET Sunday start. Left-hander Jeff Locke (3-2, 4.70) will make his second career start against the Padres and try to notch his second win. He beat them in Pittsburgh on Sept. 13, 2013.

Padres: Odrisamer Despaigne (2-3, 6.11) has been good of late as a rotation fill-in for Brandon Morrow (DL, right shoulder inflammation). Despaigne has allowed two earned runs over his last two starts (12 innings), including six scoreless innings against the Angels last time out.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Corey Brock is a reporter for Listen to his podcast.
Read More: Tyson Ross