Morton is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three starts, including two complete games, when facing Cincinnati this season. He's allowed just one run over 23 innings. Morton had a shutout bid end on April 15 at Great American Ball Park on a two-out solo homer in the ninth by Jay Bruce, then tossed a five-hit shutout in Cincinnati on May 18, and scattered three hits in five innings on July 18 at PNC Park. All told, he's 4-4 with a 3.88 ERA in nine career starts vs. the Reds.
What's even more impressive about Morton is his last three starts. He's 1-0 and has given up just one run in that three-game span, covering 22 1/3 innings. Morton had his career-best 24 innings scoreless streak come to an end in his last start Sunday in a no-decision at Milwaukee in a 2-1 10-inning loss. He has gone 6-1 with a 1.89 ERA in 10 starts this year against the NL Central and has been charged with three earned runs in his last three starts (17.1 innings) at PNC Park.
On the other side, Dontrelle Willis has yet to record a win this season. The lefty lasted just 2 2/3 innings in a defeat vs. San Diego on Sunday. He left that contest with soreness in his left forearm. Willis is 2-6 with a 3.75 ERA in 10 starts against the Pirates. That includes a 2-0 loss at PNC Park on July 18 against Morton.
Last night, Ryan Hanigan capped a three-run ninth inning with a two-run single, as the Reds won by an 11-8 margin.
With the score tied at eight, the Reds pushed across three runs in the ninth. Joel Hanrahan (0-2) walked Joey Votto to start the inning. Dave Sappelt singled two batters later to put men on the corners with one out. Drew Stubbs followed with a grounder to second baseman Neil Walker, who went home with the throw. Catcher Ryan Doumit was unable to make the catch, which allowed the go-ahead run to score. Hanigan hit a two-run single up the middle to account for the final margin.
"It boils down to the leadoff walk, you can't have that in a situation like that. You have to get the first guy out," Hanrahan admitted.
Francisco Cordero tossed a perfect ninth for his 25th save of the season.
Brandon Phillips went 3-for-5 with a three-run homer and four RBI for the Reds, who have won two of three. Votto added a two-run homer and Hanigan hit a solo home run.
"That was probably the strangest, most hard-fought game we've had this year. ... Everyone was running on empty," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Brandon Wood went 2-for-4 with three RBI for the Pirates, who have lost two in a row and five of seven overall.
The opener of this three-game set featured 19 runs and 28 hits. It was also delayed by 41 minutes at the start by rain.
The Pirates own a sizeable 7-3 advantage in the season series between these clubs.