The Boston Red Sox were shut out for the 15th time this season, as Charlie Morton pitched five strong innings in his first start since August 15th and five relievers kept the Red Sox off the board as the Pittsburgh Pirates grabbed a 4-0 win to move closer to a playoff berth.
Morton (6-12) allowed just four hits and walked two, striking out six. He was supported by catcher Russell Martin, who hit a two-run homer, his 10th of the season, in the second inning. Outfielder Starling Marte, whose strong play has come at the right time for the Pirates, drilled his 12th of the year in the sixth to end the evening for Red Sox starter Anthony Ranaudo.
Ranaudo (3-3) has now allowed 10 homers in 32 and 1/3 innings as a Major League starter. The 2014 International League Pitcher of the Year yielded just nine blasts in 138 innings pitched with Pawtucket.
After the game, Ranaudo spoke of better mixing his pitches and understanding batters’ tendencies as he goes along at the Major League level.
A Travis Snider RBI single in the seventh capped the scoring for the Bucs, who won for the ninth time in 11 games.
The Red Sox had plenty of chances against Morton and the train of relievers that followed. Boston went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and struck out 11 times on the night.
Xander Bogaerts continued his hot hitting with two singles.
Rusney Castillo is expected to make his Major League debut on Wednesday night against Francisco Liriano (5-10, 3.53), coming off eight shutout innings against the Phillies and carrying a 0.67 ERA over his last four starts. He is 4-3 with a a 2.22 ERA in 11 turns since the All-Star break. The Red Sox counter with Clay Buchholz (8-8, 5.19), who is also showing signs of life, with a 2.10 ERA over his last four outings.