MIAMI (AP) - Charlie Morton nearly escaped. A slow-roller in the infield almost got him and the Pittsburgh Pirates out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning to keep the game scoreless.
The key word? Almost.
Morton gave up a two-run infield single to Florida's Chris Coghlan as part of a four-run second inning, got touched for two more in the third and the Pirates wound up falling to the Marlins 6-0 on Wednesday night.
The Pirates lost the series opener by the same 6-0 score. They struck out 12 times on Tuesday, 10 more on Wednesday.
``We haven't scored a run in 18 innings and they've gotten on top of us early in both games,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``Twenty-two punchouts in 18 innings means they're playing pitch and catch.'
Morton (2-1) was charged with six runs on 10 hits - nine singles, the other a double that didn't figure into the scoring - in five innings, his ERA more than doubling from 1.64 to 3.33. He was 2-12 last season with a 7.57 ERA, then had a strong spring and kept that going through his first three starts of the regular season.
His first rough night of 2011 came against the Marlins, who have now won five of their last six.
``They were just hitting my slider,' Morton said. ``It wasn't sinking.'
Bonifacio had two hits and scored from second on Coghlan's slow roller to highlight a four-run Florida second. Ricky Nolasco (2-0) gave up four hits, walked one and threw 66 of his 96 pitches for strikes for the Marlins, who have won five of their last six.
The Marlins have eight home runs in 16 games, yet are still off to a 10-6 start, second in the NL East behind Philadelphia.
``We've been playing very aggressively on the basepaths,' Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said. ``And tonight was a good example. We're not showing the power that we used to show in previous years, but we're compensating that with aggressive baserunning.'
Matt Diaz had two of Pittsburgh's five hits, including a double. The Pirates are 3-7 since April 9.
Morton had allowed five runs - four earned - in his first three starts, never giving up more than one in any inning. That changed quickly against the Marlins, who had six straight batters reach with two out in the second and matched their biggest one-inning output of the young season.
Singles by John Buck and Bonifacio got Florida started, and a four-pitch walk to Nolasco loaded the bases. The next batter was Coghlan, who tapped the first pitch toward the right side and beat it out - all while Bonifacio, Florida's speediest player, had a green light from third base coach Joey Espada and never broke stride on his sprint from second.
``That put us in a bad situation,' Hurdle said of the four-pitch walk to Nolasco. ``And the one that followed was the one that really dug the hole deeper.'
Bonifacio beat the tag, singles by Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez knocked in two more runs, and Florida was up 4-0.
``The ball just wasn't doing what it normally does,' Morton said.
Bonifacio - who was only in the lineup because left fielder Logan Morrison is sidelined with a left foot injury - and Coghlan struck again in the third, each hitting RBI singles to push the Marlins' lead to 6-0.
That was more than plenty for Nolasco, who hadn't gotten six runs of support since last July 31.
He struck out the side in the fourth, worked another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, and got help from two defensive gems by Ramirez - who victimized Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez both times.
The Marlins' shortstop fielded a sharp one-hopper by Alvarez behind the second-base bag in the second, then threw from his knee in time for the out. And with two out in the seventh, Ramirez caught a relay throw from Bonifacio, spun and got Buck the ball in time to tag a sliding Alvarez and keep Pittsburgh scoreless.
``We didn't think,' Ramirez said. ``Just threw. Twice.'
NOTES: Pittsburgh has lost consecutive road games for the first time this season. ... Thursday marks the Pirates' final scheduled appearance at Sun Life Stadium, where they're now 29-43.
The Associated Press News Service
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