Morris hit hard yet again in Pirates' 8-4 loss

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Matt Morris' season just keeps sinking lower and lower.

He lasted only 1 2/3 innings in the Pirates' 8-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies tonight at PNC Park, and he was charged with six runs on six hits and a walk.

He now is 0-4 with a 9.67 ERA, and opponents have batted an outrageous .390 off him with six home runs, including Ryan Howard's two-run blast last night.

This one, it is safe to say, did not go at all as Morris had hoped ...

He wanted to throw low, but his pitches stayed up.

He wanted to deal more in offspeed stuff, but his eventual reliance on the fastball cost him.

Above all, he wanted to last longer than his previous outing Monday, one in which the Florida Marlins tagged him for eight run in four innings, but he would not make it half that far.

Morris got two quick outs in the first, staying down in the zone and going exclusively offspeed with his first 13 pitches.

But it all looked familiar soon after that.

Chase Utley singled, and Howard clubbed a double no-no for Morris -- a belt-high, 85-mph fastball on a 1-2 count -- into the center-field landscaping for a 2-0 lead and his first career home run against the Pirates.

Next, Pat Burrell singled and scored when right fielder Xavier Nady failed to glove Geoff Jenkins' screamer for an error. Chris Coste was hit by a pitch, Eric Bruntlett singled for another run.

Morris' mound opponent, Kyle Kendrick, grounded a double-play ball to shortstop Brian Bixler, but it skipped off his glove and into the outfield to make it 5-0.

Bixler would muff another grounder later, raising the Pirates' error total to 28, most in Major League Baseball. That includes 10 errors by shortstops not named Jack Wilson.

Morris' pitch count after that inning?

Forty-nine.

The errors extended that, and three of the five runs were unearned, but those were no more than salt on the wound.

Another run on two hits and a walk in the second, and manager John Russell lifted Morris, with the 24,791 in attendance standing to boo him off the field.

Dumatrait relieved and, as if he were auditioning for starting duty, pitched four mostly smooth innings with five strikeouts, his only two runs -- one unearned -- coming in the sixth.

The offense, again buried by a miserable start, tried to claw out of a 6-0 hole for a second consecutive night, again fell well short. Two highlight: Nady's hitting streak was extended to 14 with a fourth-inning double. And Nate McLouth snapped an 0-for-15 slide with an RBI single in the third inning and a home run, his fourth, a solo shot above the Clemente Wall off Kendrick in the eighth.


Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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