Morton, Walker lead Pirates over Giants

Pittsburgh Pirates' Neil Walker hits a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Pittsburgh Pirates' Neil Walker hits a two-run home run against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (AP) – Neil Walker was more impressed by his team’s starting pitcher than his home run.

Charlie Morton combined with two relievers on a six-hitter and Walker hit a two-run home run to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates over the San Francisco Giants 4-0 on Thursday night.

Morton (8-4) scattered four hits over 6 2/3 innings while striking out eight and walking two. He was pulled in the seventh inning with a four-run lead after the Giants loaded the bases with two outs.

“It’s fun to play behind him when he’s going well because he gets a lot of ground balls that lead to a lot of quick innings and you get on and off the field in a hurry,” Walker said. “He was really good tonight.”

Jared Hughes, who got Gregor Blanco to line out to end the seventh-inning threat, and Tony Watson completed the shutout.

Walker hit his 13th home run in the sixth inning off Jake Peavy (3-6) to push the Pirates’ lead to 4-0. They had gone ahead 2-0 on RBI doubles by Aramis Ramirez in the first and shortstop Jung Ho Kang in the third.

Walker, Kang and Starling Marte each had two hits.

The Pirates (72-45) moved a season-high 25 games over .500 with their seventh win in eight games, pulling within 4 1/2 games of the idle St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

“We’re playing really well right now and it’s a situation where everyone is contributing, one through 25 on the roster,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Giants dropped 2 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were off, in the NL West.

Peavy allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings with five strikeouts and one walk. He had won all three of his career starts at PNC Park but was pitching in Pittsburgh for the first time since 2008.

“I thought he settled down,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He was throwing the ball well. We just couldn’t generate any offense. Their guy was just really good.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: RF Hunter Pence (strained left oblique) was placed on the 15-day disabled list before the game, retroactive to Monday, and LF Nori Aoki was activated from the 7-day concussion DL and went 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base. … 2B Joe Panik (lower back inflammation) has started participating in baseball activities at the Giants’ spring training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., and will be examined by team doctors next Tuesday when the Giants begin their next homestand.

Pirates: 3B Josh Harrison (torn left wrist ligament) and SS Jordy Mercer (sprained left knee) could return from the disabled list sometime during the four-game series that ends Sunday, according to manager Clint Hurdle. … 1B/OF Corey Hart (left shoulder impingement/right knee discomfort) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis.

HELP ON THE WAY

The Giants acquired outfielder Marlon Byrd from the Cincinnati Reds in a trade and he is expected to be in uniform for Friday night’s game. The Giants hope Byrd will bolster and outfield also missing center fielder Angel Pagan, who is on the DL with right knee tendinitis.

The 37-year-old Byrd hit .237 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs in 96 games for the Reds.

MINOR ADDITION

The Pirates signed outfielder Travis Snider, who played for them the previous three seasons, to a minor league contract and assigned him to Indianapolis. The Baltimore Orioles released him last week after he hit .237 with three homers and 20 RBIs in 69 games.

STREAKS

Giants: SS Brandon Crawford’s career-best 13-game hitting streak ended as he went 0 for 3 with a walk.

Pirates: LF Marte ran his hitting streak to five games by going 2 for 3 … Morton has not allowed a home run to the Giants in his last eight starts and 51 1/3 innings.

UP NEXT

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (14-6, 2.98 ERA) will start Friday night, pitching in Pittsburgh for the first time since throwing a four-hit shutout in last year’s NL wild card playoff game.

Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke (6-7, 4.31 ERA) is 1-3 with a 4.70 ERA in his last seven starts.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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