PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates got solid pitching from starter Charlie Morton, but couldn't muster much offense as the Cardinals notched a 4-1 victory on Friday in front of 23,509 at PNC Park.
Morton tossed five innings and surrendered two runs (one unearned) on four hits. The right-hander's pitch total reached 93 as he recorded six strikeouts. Morton was saddled with the loss, falling to 0-1.
"I think it was a mixed bag and I don't know if it's ever going to be a real good thing when his best command pitch is his breaking ball," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "When he was good he was very good, but there were some in between inconsistencies with command that elevated the pitch count, but all in all, he walks out of the game and we're down 2-1, without his best outing, so he competed well and kept us in the game."
"I didn't think it was a bad outing," Morton offered. "I thought obviously the bullpen worked a lot this past road trip, so normally you want to work into the seventh, eighth or ninth inning, especially when you're coming off a road trip where the bullpen has been working hard. I wanted to try and give them a little breather."
St. Louis starter Lance Lynn went seven innings and allowed one run on four hits, as the right-hander picked up the victory to move to 3-0 on the season.
Lynn was pleased with his outing.
"The first two batters I thought it was going to be a long night. With [Andrew] McCutchen coming up, you definitely don't want to start a game like that. But I was able to rebound, make some good pitches early on to get some double plays. I was just trying to fill up the zone and make them hit my pitch."
"Lynn was very aggressive," Hurdle stated. "He was very efficient with his pitches and had a handful of three-ball counts. Probably threw a few more breaking balls, sliders and changeups, but nothing that kind of whacked us out. He just hit his spots and was very aggressive."
"He was throwing strikes," Pirates outfielder Alex Presley said of Lynn. "I thought we had some good at bats, but it's just one of those things where we couldn't scratch enough across. We've played a bunch of games like this already. We just need to score some more runs."
Presley jump-started the Pirates' sluggish offense with an inside-the-park home run to lead off the game -- the Bucs' first leadoff inside-the-parker since Omar Moreno did it in 1980. Presley stroked a 1-0 pitch from Lynn over center fielder Skip Schumaker's head and scampered around the bases for his first homer.
"Last year in Triple-A, I had one," Presley recalled. "It's pretty rare and I wasn't expecting it, a triple for sure when I saw him miss it. I think he got hurt out there and couldn't get up and that helped my chances a bunch. It's one of those things."
"After the bounce I think it was a done deal," Hurdle said of Presley's dash around the bases. "We got the right kick and we got both outfielders close to the wall, and I didn't think there would be much of a contest. It was an exciting way to start."
Schumaker hit the wall hard attempting to make the catch and was shaken up. Erik Komatsu immediately replaced him in center field.
It was the first inside-the-park home run by a Pirate since Freddy Sanchez did it on July 21, 2008, at Houston. It was the first at PNC Park since Jack Wilson turned the trick on July 2, 2004, against Milwaukee.
The Cardinals tied the game at 1 with an unearned run in the top of the second. Carlos Beltran reached first base on an error by Morton. Beltran came around to score on an RBI double by Yadier Molina.
St. Louis grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth inning. Lynn singled and was knocked in with an RBI single by Beltran.
The Cards tacked on two insurance runs in the ninth against Bucs reliever Jared Hughes. Daniel Descalso homered and Rafael Furcal had an RBI double.
Cards right-hander Mitchell Boggs pitched a scoreless eighth inning and closer Jason Motte hurled a scoreless ninth to pick up his third save.
"That was a tough game," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny offered. "This Pittsburgh team has had a lot of tough games. Most of their games have been very close, and they've had a lot of one-run games. You can see they just play hard."
George Von Benko is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.