Charlie Morton shut down Cincinnati's powerful lineup again, throwing a five-hitter for his second career shutout, and Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer last night, leading the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-0 victory that snapped their six-game losing streak.
Morton (5-1) avoided heavy rain for a change and stymied Cincinnati again. He threw a five-hitter for a 6-1 win at Great American Ball Park on April 15, coming within one out of a shutout.
Alvarez ended his streak of 15 games without driving in a run when he connected in the fourth off Bronson Arroyo (3-4), who has been prone to homers this season. Andrew McCutchen added a two-run shot in the seventh.
Arroyo has given up 10 homers, accounting for 16 of the 29 runs he's allowed.
Morton sent the Reds to only their third loss in 14 games. His other shutout was Sept. 30, 2009 at Wrigley Field - the last complete-game shutout by a Pirates pitcher on the road.
Morton has turned into the Pirates' rainmaker. His start last Thursday against the Dodgers was called after two innings. He was supposed to start Tuesday in Washington, but the game was called because of a threat of rain, pushing him back one day.
"I think it was an advantage to come in and have some rest," Morton said. "Obviously I was worried about feeling rusty. I felt pretty sharp, pretty fresh."
Appropriately, he didn't get through this one without some raindrops. Light rain moved in during the sixth inning, but Morton was in control by then.
Arroyo gave up five runs in seven innings, becoming the first Reds starter to take a loss since May 3. With Homer Bailey and Johnny Cueto back from the disabled list, Reds starters had gone unbeaten during the last 13 games - 8-0 with a 2.37 ERA.
In other games:
* At New York, Jonathon Niese (3-4) pitched seven sharp innings, some of them in heavy rain, and Justin Turner hit a two-run double that sent the Mets to a 3-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
* At Miami, Marlon Byrd hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the eighth inning, and the Chicago Cubs broke a three-game losing streak by beating the Florida Marlins, 7-5.
* At St. Louis, Kyle Lohse (5-2) threw eight dominant innings to beat the Houston Astros for the second time in less than a month, leading the Cardinals to a 5-1 victory.
Jon Jay hit a two-run single in the Cardinals' four-run third.
* Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said Bryce Harper will not be called up this season, even after rosters are expanded in September.
The 18-year-old Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft, is hitting .366 with nine home runs, 31 RBI and six stolen bases for Class A Hagerstown.
But Rizzo said he doesn't feel the slugger is ready.
"Believe me, if I felt he was ready to hit in the big leagues right now and perform in the big leagues right now, he would be up in the big leagues," Rizzo said. "If he gave us the best chance to win, he'd be up there, and trying to help us win."
In other news, Stephen Strasburg is ready to start throwing off a mound, the next step in his recovery from reconstructive elbow surgery.
The 22-year-old righthander, who was the top pick in the 2009 draft, had ligament replacement surgery on his pitching elbow Sept. 3 and it is expected to take 12 to 18 months to return to the majors.
* Los Angeles Dodgers righthanded reliever Vicente Padilla was shut down for the second consecutive game because of discomfort in his pitching elbow, which was surgically repaired 3 months ago.
* The St. Louis Cardinals placed infielder Nick Punto on the disabled list with a right forearm flexor strain, a day after he was unavailable to play on defense.