PHOENIX (AP) - The Pittsburgh Pirates are making it tough for the Arizona Diamondbacks to wrap things up in the NL West.
Charlie Morton allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, one of his best outings of the season, and the Pirates beat the Diamondbacks 5-3 on Tuesday night to square the series at a game apiece.
Derek Lee hit a two-run homer in the eighth and Pedro Alvarez a solo shot in the second for Pittsburgh, which snapped a four-game losing streak.
Morton was the beneficiary of some great defense.
``That was the best defensively played game behind me I ever had,' he said. ``My stuff was all right, a little inconsistent. I fell behind a lot of guys. They were hitting some balls pretty hard actually. I just had some great plays behind me.'
Morton (10-10), loser of his previous four starts, allowed three hits and struck out five in his first victory since Aug. 8.
``He continues to work well, throw strikes, sink the ball,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``He spun the ball well tonight. It was a very solid outing for him and we found a way to score a couple more than them.'
Morton had two hits, doubling his total for the season in 48 at_bats. The single and double brought his average for the season to .080.
Daniel Hudson (16-11) lasted five innings for the Diamondbacks, allowing three runs and seven hits.
The Diamondbacks, 1-0 winners on Monday night to give Ian Kennedy his 20th victory, close out their three-game series with Pittsburgh on Wednesday, then have Thursday off before hosting the Giants in a three-game set beginning Friday night. Any combination of three Arizona wins or San Francisco losses clinches the division title for the Diamondbacks.
``I don't think about when we're going to clinch,' Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. ``I know we just keep pushing ahead game by game and try to play a good game, pitch good, execute better at the plate and I believe that things will take care of themselves. I'm not thinking about any celebrations at all. Trust me.'
Arizona has lost four of six.
Still, Gibson said, ``We're what, 5 1/2 up with seven to go? That's a pretty good position to be in.'
After Morton was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, the Diamondbacks' Gerardo Parra and pinch-hitter Sean Burroughs singled off reliever Chris Leroux. Jason Grilli came on and gave up an RBI single to Willie Bloomquist.
The Pirates got that run back and more when usually reliable setup man David Hernandez faltered. Presley led off with his second double of the game then with two outs Lee slammed an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left for his sixth home run of the season.
Arizona restored the two-run margin with two runs in the eighth. Chris Young doubled and Ryan Roberts singled him in. With runners at first and third and two outs, Bloomquist put down a bunt that the third baseman Alvarez - who had made two sparkling plays earlier - threw wild to first allowing a run to score and make it 5-3.
``I have always tried to separate the two and if I am not hitting well I want to play good defense,' Alvarez said. ``If I have some blunders on defense I want to make sure that I keep myself at peace when I am hitting. You can win some ball games and lose some ball games with defense. It is something I take a lot of pride in and work on religiously.'
Joel Hanrahan pitched a perfect ninth for his 39th save in 42 tries.
Spectacular catches by Presley in left and Garret Jones in right saved at least a run in the Arizona first. Presley ran down Upton's drive to deep left-center and Jones' diving grab robbed Paul Goldschmidt to end the inning.
``Both teams left a large amount of people on base but we did play excellent defense,' Hurdle said. ``A number of different times, the two catches in the first inning jumps out plus Presley goes in the gap to get one, Pedro had a couple. We were good in the field and Charlie pitched a solid ball game.'
Pittsburgh had 14 hits, eight for extra bases, and stranded 12 runners while snapping a four-game losing streak.
Notes: Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall, who announced Tuesday he has prostate cancer, sat in his usual seat near the dugout and got hugs of support from several red-clad team employees. ... Left-hander Wade Miley (3-2, 4.24 ERA) makes his seventh major-league start for Arizona on Wednesday. Right-hander Ross Ohlendorf (1-2, 6.82 ERA) goes for the Pirates. ... Pittsburgh had two runners picked off.
The Associated Press News Service
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