Pirates Win Fourth Road Series This Season

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DENVER -- Teams had to love when the Pirates came to town last season.

The Pirates managed just 17 wins in 81 road games and made life easy on most opponents, who could rest easy knowing that, while they may drop a game, they likely were going to win the series.

Not so this year.

The Pirates (13-15) won their fourth road series out of five with an 8-4 victory Sunday over the Colorado Rockies (17-9) at Coors Field. That's the same number they won all of last season, and they did it in the first month of the season.

They've accomplished the feat against good teams, too.

The Rockies entered the Pirates series with the best record in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals, leaders of the NL Central, and the second-place Cincinnati Reds, a preseason division favorite, also dropped series to the Pirates at their stadiums.

"We came and beat a good team in their ballpark, and we did it in Cincinnati and St. Louis," manager Clint Hurdle said. "The emphasis on the road was something we talked about in spring training, and our guys have done a fine job so far, one day and one month into the season."

It might only get better.

The Pirates tonight open a three-game series at the San Diego Padres, who entered yesterday tied with the Minnesota Twins for the worst record in the majors. The Padres (10-17) defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, while the Twins lost to Kansas City.

Translating their road success -- they're now 9-7 away from the Steel City -- to success at PNC Park has been another matter.

The Pirates are just 4-8 at home. After the Padres series, the Pirates return to PNC Park to face the Houston Astros, last in the NL Central, for three games beginning Friday.

Charlie Morton turned in another solid performance yesterday, allowing four runs on seven hits in 51/3 innings. In an unusual twist, every Pirates batter, except Morton and second baseman Neil Walker, reached base through the first five innings.

Xavier Paul, whom the Pirates claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers last week, started in left field for Jose Tabata and hit a two-run triple off losing pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in the second inning. Paul also singled in the fourth.

His triple -- the second in three games for the Pirates after they managed none in the first 25 games -- was part of a four-run second inning. The Pirates added another four runs in the fifth off Esmil Rogers, who was relegated to coming out of the bullpen because his last scheduled start was rained out.

Rogers had dominated the Pirates in their home opener April 7, allowing just one run in 71/3 innings, but he struggled with control yesterday.

The Pirates' eight runs were one shy of equaling a season-high.

Morton found himself in a few jams and, as Hurdle said, had to work more than he had to pitch yesterday. The Pirates' lead threatened to unravel in the fourth when the Rockies loaded the bases with two outs. But Morton got Alfredo Amezaga to line out to Walker to end the inning. …