0 - 2 Final
  for this game

Pirates blank Reds, back atop NL Central

Jul 19, 2011 - 5:48 AM Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - The Pirates waited out the rain and lightning Monday night, and now they're back in first place in the NL Central.

Charlie Morton and three relievers combined on a three-hit shutout, helping the Pirates to a 2-0 win over the Reds to start a three-game series.

Andrew McCutchen and Matt Diaz knocked in runs in the fourth inning for Pittsburgh, which is a half-game ahead of both St. Louis and Milwaukee in the division. The Brewers were in first place entering the night, but lost in Arizona.

Morton (8-5) allowed the three hits through five innings. Tony Watson, Daniel McCutchen and Joel Hanrahan finished the gem on the mound for the Pirates, who are six games over .500 (50-44) for the first time this season.

In a game that ended close to midnight, the Pirates continued to frustrate the Reds, a team that fell to four games off the division lead. Pittsburgh, winners in four of its last five overall, is 6-1 against Cincinnati this season.

Dontrelle Willis (0-1), in his second major league start of the season, gave up five hits over 4 2/3 innings.

The game was delayed at the start due to rain, and Morton, who had lost his previous two decisions, escaped a base-loaded jam in the first inning. Miguel Cairo was up with a 1-2 count in the opening inning and the bases full when the contest went into a second delay, this one lasting 1 hour, 23 minutes. Cairo grounded into a force play after the delay to end the frame.

"He played catch a couple of times in between," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "I think if we would have gotten pushed much later we would have had to go another way. It's a very resilient effort by Charlie to throw 30-plus pitches, come out and then sit for an hour and 20 minutes, go out and fire off 50 more. A well-pitched, gutsy effort by him."

That was essentially the play of the game, as Chase d'Arnaud made a diving stop on a ball up the middle and flipped the ball out of his glove while falling down to record the force out.

In the bottom half of the fourth, d'Arnaud singled to start the frame. Neil Walker, who went 2-for-3 and extended his hitting streak to 12 games, then singled and advanced to second on Jay Bruce's throw to third as d'Arnaud reached the base safely. Andrew McCutchen's groundout to shortstop plated the first run and Diaz followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Walker.

The Reds put runners on first and second in the eighth thanks to a Bruce walk and a catcher's interference call, but Daniel McCutchen retired Cairo on a foul pop up to end the inning.

"We have to do our job. We have to do something to spark this team and get something going," Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips said.

Game Notes

The Pirates saw d`Arnaud leave the game with a neck injury...In seven starts against teams from the NL Central, this season, Morton has gone 6-1...The Pirates have won eight of their last 10 games played at PNC Park...The Reds haven't won consecutive games since their three-game sweep at the Dodgers from June 13-15. They are 10-16 since then.