ST. LOUIS (AP) - Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Charlie Morton earned the nickname ``Ground Chuck' last season for his ability to get grounders and keep the ball in the park.
But as Morton discovered during Tuesday night's 10-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, when he's up in the strike zone, the ball can go a long way.
Morton (1-2) allowed just six homers last season, the fewest in the majors among pitchers with at least 100 innings. The second one he's served up this year was David Freese's tiebreaking, three-run shot to right-center in the fifth, Freese's sixth overall and third in five games.
Given the location of what was supposed to be a sinker in, Morton was not surprised where it landed.
``It was just up,' Morton said. ``It didn't do anything. It stayed up and he did a great job of staying back and hitting it to right-center.'
The Cardinals had dinged Morton for two early runs, but he was holding his own until losing control in the fifth. Matt Holliday singled with one out and Carlos Beltran walked ahead of Freese's homer.
``He had a chance to get out (of it) but the ball just got up and flat and he missed spots,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``He missed a lot of spots tonight and they did what they're supposed to do and what they've been doing for a while now.'
The Pirates topped five runs, their season best for the first 21 games, for the second straight night after beating Atlanta 9-3 on Monday. But they committed four errors, matching their season worst April 20 also against the Cardinals in a 4-1 loss, leading to four unearned runs.
Morton gave up six runs, five earned, in 4 1-3 innings. Two starts ago he allowed one earned run in five innings in a 4-1 loss to the Cardinals.
``However the guys get on, they get on, and you have to make pitches and get out of situations,' Morton said. ``However they get on, you have to do your job.'
Adam Wainwright worked seven solid innings for his first win since September 2010. Holliday homered in the sixth off Jared Hughes to cap a three-hit night with two RBIs.
Allen Craig had two hits and an RBI in his season debut after rehabbing from knee surgery performed last fall shortly after he belted three homers in the World Series. Rafael Furcal had two hits, including his first homer, a two-run shot off Tony Watson in the seventh that made it 10-4.
Wainwright (1-3) was hurt only by the long ball in his fifth start of the season, allowing five hits but giving up two-run homers to Jose Tabata in the third and Pedro Alvarez in the seventh. The right-hander totaled 39 wins from 2009-10 but missed last season following reconstructive elbow surgery, and became the last member of the rotation to get a win this year.
His previous victory was his 20th of the 2010 season.
``I think if you look at 90 percent of my game today, it was pretty good,' Wainwright said. ``I feel like each time I'm getting a little sharper.'
Tabata ended a 140-at-bat homer drought dating to Aug. 17, 2011, against the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse. Alvarez was the first Pirates player to reach double figures in RBIs with his sixth homer and a run-scoring single, giving him 12 on the year. Garret Jones has 10 RBIs after an RBI single off Fernando Salas in the eighth cut the deficit to three.
``We're always finishing and grinding it out,' Alvarez said. ``We're playing to the last pitch. Maybe if we played a little better defense earlier in the game, we don't find ourselves in that kind of a situation.'
Jason Motte worked the ninth for his fourth save in five chances.
Plate umpire C.B. Buckner left the game due to illness during a pitching change with one out in the bottom of the seventh and a crew of three finished the game, with second base ump Dan Iassogna moving behind the plate. Buckner briefly went to the St. Louis clubhouse for attention during a break between innings before calling it a night.
NOTES: Lance Lynn (4-0, 1.33 ERA), off to a great start as the stand-in for injured ace Chris Carpenter , opposes A.J. Burnett (1-1, 1.38) in the second game of the three-game series Wednesday. ... Slow-footed Cardinals C Yadier Molina is 4 for 4 in steals. He caught Morton so unaware in the fourth there was no throw and was on the front end of a double steal in the seventh that prompted a wild throw from catcher Rod Barajas , allowing a run to score. ... Morton did not miss injured Cardinals 1B Lance Berkman , who is 8 for 14 with two homers and six RBIs against him.
The Associated Press News Service
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