CINCINNATI – Bronson Arroyo felt better than he had in a long time. The Pirates still worked him over pretty good.
Garrett Jones and Neil Walker homered off Arroyo, who gave up a season-high five runs in only four innings, and Pittsburgh pulled away to a 6-1 victory on Friday night behind Charlie Morton's complete game.
Arroyo (2-1) gave up only three earned runs in his first two starts, when he acknowledged he was still feeling the effects of mononucleosis. His strength was back a little more on Friday, but his control was gone.
"I felt stronger than I have all year," Arroyo said. "Those guys fought me hard tonight. You've got to (credit) Charlie. He threw a great game."
In challenging conditions.
Extreme wind gusts sent food wrappers racing across the field and played havoc with flyballs — one of Cincinnati's wind-blown flies landed for a hit. No problem for Morton (2-0), who kept his shutout until Jay Bruce homered with two outs in the ninth. His only other complete game was a shutout against the Cubs on Sept. 30, 2009.
Morton changed his delivery during spring training, dropping his arm just a bit to get more movement on his pitches.
"He's a completely different pitcher," Bruce said. "Not that I'm bashing what he was before, but he had a plan and did a great job."
The NL's most prolific offense managed only five hits off Morton, who threw 81 strikes out of 110 pitches. Arroyo's control wasn't anywhere near as good.
"He didn't have his command tonight," manager Dusty Baker said. "He didn't have his location. You can always tell when he gives up 0-2 and two-strike hits. I don't know how many he gave up tonight, but he gave up a number of them."
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle rearranged his lineup for the second consecutive game, trying to get some runs out of the NL's lowest-scoring offense. This time, it worked. The six runs matched Pittsburgh's season high.
Five players batted in new positions in the lineup, with Andrew McCutchen batting leadoff for the first this season. McCutchen struck out four times. Everyone else did much better against Arroyo.
Jose Tabata had a career-high four hits. Garrett Jones, batting sixth for the first time this season, led off the second inning with a homer, snapping his 0-for-10 streak and getting the 14-hit Pirate night rolling.
Lyle Overbay, who loves hitting at Great American Ball Park, singled home a run in the fourth with two outs. Overbay is a .424 career hitter at the Reds' park, getting two more hits on Friday night.
Walker followed with a two-run homer on a two-strike pitch for a 5-0 lead — two more runs than Arroyo had allowed in his first two starts combined.
Cincinnati's offense bailed out Arroyo in the first two games, scoring a total of 18 runs. It couldn't do anything against Morton, who struck out three and got 15 outs on ground balls. The 27-year-old right-hander has given up only four earned runs in his three starts, winning back-to-back decisions for the first time in his career.
The Reds were missing second baseman Brandon Phillips, sidelined by a strained groin he suffered in the last game. Baker said Phillips might miss one more game.
With time on his hands, Phillips sent out 36 tweets in two-hour span before the game. Phillips took up tweeting before the start of the season at the urging of Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco.
NOTES: RH Jeff Karstens will start for the Pirates on Sunday. ... McCutchen's four strikeouts were one shy of the club record. ... Pittsburgh called up LH reliever Joe Beimel before the game. ... Reds LH reliever Aroldis Chapman will get a couple days off to rest a tender pitching elbow. Baker said doctors don't think it's anything serious. ... RH Johnny Cueto will make his first rehab start for Triple-A Louisville, RH Homer Bailey his first there a day later. Both opened the season on the DL with shoulder problems. ... After the game, the Reds announced that Mike Leake will start against the Pirates on Saturday in place of Edinson Volquez, who has a stiff neck and will be pushed back one day.