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PIT@CHC: Alvarez crushes a solo shot to left-center

CHICAGO -- Two powerful, looping swings from one hitter put four runs on the board, and put down one of the Pirates' most accomplished streaks of the season Saturday.

Pittsburgh starter Charlie Morton surrendered a pair of two-run home runs to Alfonso Soriano, and the Pirates' offense fell quiet in a 4-1 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. It was the first time since June 12 -- a span of 20 games -- that a Pirates starter allowed more than three earned runs in a ballgame.

"Neither of them were bad pitches, but you look back, and they weren't good pitches either," Morton said. "Those are two I'd like to have back."

It was a bittersweet afternoon for the Pirates, who were jubilant before the ballgame started at the news that four among them -- starter Jeff Locke, reliever Jason Grilli, outfielder Andrew McCutchen and third baseman Pedro Alvarez -- had been named to the National League All-Star team.

Even the loss didn't do much to dampen the mood afterward.

"It's great," said Alvarez, who produced Pittsburgh's only offense with a fourth-inning homer. "Obviously it just shows the kind of caliber team that we have, and I think we still have a shot of maybe getting some more guys. It's gonna be a lot of fun."

Morton scattered seven hits, including the two homers, over a season-high six innings, striking out six and walking three. The righty allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in the first five innings. Twice it led to runs, as Soriano drove in Anthony Rizzo with his fourth-inning homer and Julio Borbon with his fifth-inning shot.

"Obviously it was the Sori show today," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Soriano, whose 31 career home runs against the Pirates are his most against a single team.

Morton's counterpart, Edwin Jackson, earned the win after allowing just four hits -- including Alvarez's home run to left field -- in 5 2/3 innings. Jackson struck out three.

"We didn't create any offensive momentum," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Every time we had a chance maybe to extend an inning and move the chains, Jackson made a pitch to get an out or get out of the inning."

The Pirates left five on base and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. They had only one baserunner aboard in the final three innings.

It was the Pirates' first loss in their last eight road games. A win would have marked the club's first eight-game road winning streak since Sept. 6-21, 1987.

"We got the ball in two bad spots," Hurdle said, referencing the difference-making home runs. "We got the ball in spots that we didn't want to get to, by any means." Comments