PITTSBURGH -- Pedro Alvarez has only been along the ride for most of the first half of the season, but he may be ready to give the Pirates a lift. Alvarez's two-run double triggered a five-run first on Saturday and the Bucs went on to an 8-4 win over Atlanta at rain-soaked PNC Park.
Julio Teheran's road woes continued as the opening inning caved in on him shortly after he hit Andrew McCutchen the left elbow with a pitch, forcing the All-Star outfielder's removal from the game. Although he settled in to hold the Pirates to one additional run in his six-inning outing, Teheran's road ERA swelled to 7.40 (40 earned runs in 48 2/3 innings).
"I'm not the only one ticked off. We were all ticked off," McCutchen said. "It's not just me; someone gets hit and has to come out of the game, that's something we don't like. So it's good that they responded and put some runs on the board. More importantly, that we came through with the win."
Starling Martecame home on a double steal with Alvarez in the fifth and finished the game with three hits. Alvarez also had the key hit in the Pirates' 3-2 victory in Friday night's 10-inning series opener. The newbie first baseman has gone 7-for-19 (.368) with six RBIs in his last five games.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED McCutchen elbowed out: After having dodged inside pitches on a daily basis, McCutchen took a direct hit on the left elbow in the first, forcing his early removal; X-rays on the joint were negative. In the ensuing half inning, Morton nailed the Braves' Andrelton Simmons, prompting home-plate umpire John Tumpane to immediately issue warnings to both benches. More >
Teheran's ugly first: Teheran retired 17 of the final 22 batters he faced during his six-inning stint. But the Braves were unable to erase the damage created when Teheran retired just one of the first eight batters he faced. Marte and Francisco Cervelli wrapped RBI singles around Alvarez's double in that opening frame. More >
"We've got to sit down and figure out how we get him through those innings so he doesn't give up four or five runs," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It seems like it's either early in the game or late in the game that gets him."
No gray matter for Morton: Things continued to be either hot or cold for Charlie Morton, with nothing in between. Through A.J. Pierzynski's single with one out in the third, and counting Morton's previous start, he had allowed 15 hits in a three-inning span. Then he retired 11 straight -- until letting the Braves load the bases with none out in the seventh and Jace Peterson to unload them with a double that got the Braves back in the game. More >
Peterson likes 'em loaded: Before the Pirates tallied a pair of seventh-inning insurance runs against Nick Masset, Peterson brought the Braves within 6-4 with a three-run seventh-inning double in the seventh. Peterson entered the plate appearance with two hits in his past 24 at-bats. He now has seven hits in 11 at-bats with the bases loaded. More >
"I was just trying to get [inside] there, and I know you can't make a mistake to a hitter like that. I didn't know my two-seamer was moving that much. It was the first one I threw in the game. I feel bad that I hit him." -- Teheran, on hitting McCutchen
"It is [frustrating], there's no doubt. It gets everybody a little bowed up." -- Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on McCutchen's plunking, and the rest of the Bucs' response to it
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Teheran has allowed at least five earned runs in five of his first 16 starts this season. He surrendered five runs in just four of the 33 starts he made last year.
The Pirates impressively remained perfect in a couple of home categories, running their record at PNC Park against NL East teams to 11-0, and in afternoon games to 10-0.
The Braves were unsuccessful with the challenge issued when Nick Markakis was ruled out while attempting to score on Pierzynski's double with two outs in the first inning. While some replay angles showed Markakis' hand might have touched the plate before he was tagged, the play stood because the umpires did not see conclusive evidence.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves:Alex Wood will take the mound when Pittsburgh and Atlanta conclude this three game series on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. ET. Wood has produced a 2.72 ERA over his past seven starts. He was ejected for arguing balls and strikes after surrendering three fifth-inning runs during a June 7 loss to the Pirates.
Pirates: The Bucs will go for their ninth sweep of the season in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET series finale behind Jeff Locke, who will come off his first start devoid of a strikeout since last Aug. 22, but owns a 3.17 ERA for eight home starts.