Morton, Pirates blank Phillies

PHILADELPHIA – Neil Walker had three hits and an RBI to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.

Pirates starter Charlie Morton allowed one hit in three scoreless innings, striking out one. Morton, who is scheduled to start the Pirates’ second regular-season game on Wednesday against the Cubs, ended the spring with a 0.82 ERA in four starts.

Tony Watson pitched a scoreless inning. Watson hasn’t given up a run in five innings this spring. Russell Martin and Clint Barmes added RBIs for the Pirates.

Chase Utley had all three of Philadelphia’s hits, breaking out of a spring slump with a pair of doubles. Utley entered batting .175 with one extra-base hit this spring.

“His timing early on was off,” Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. “As of late, the contact has been there. He found the gaps tonight.”

The Phillies have been shut out in each of its last three games while combining for six hits in those losses.

Sandberg, though, isn’t concerned.

“I see balls being hit on the nose and nothing to show for it,” Sandberg said. “I also look at the potential of the lineup. When it all counts on Monday, that’s when I’m counting on balls to find some holes and have some baserunners.”


Phillies pinch-hitter Cesar Hernandez appeared to reach on an infield hit in the ninth, but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle challenged the call and it was reversed by instant replay.

“We had everything set up for it,” Hurdle said. “We took a virtual tour in New York. That was a good opportunity for us.”

Sandberg, a proponent of using replay, thought the process took too long.

“I don’t think you can have the pitcher stand around and the players stand around,” he said. “For me, that took a long time.”


Pirates closer Jason Grilli pitched one scoreless inning, allowing a hit. Grilli has given up four hits in five scoreless innings this spring


Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte, who signed a six-year, $31 million contract Thursday, went 1-for-5.


The teams are scheduled to play their final exhibition of the spring at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. Philadelphia opens its regular season at 2:05 p.m. Monday at Texas. The Pirates begin 2014 by hosting the Cubs at 1:05 on Monday.