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Morgan turns on the speed

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What should have been a routine grounder by Nyjer Morgan instead turned into an adventure.

With one out in the eighth inning, Morgan hit a hard bouncer up the middle. Reliever Jeff Bennett snagged the ball before Morgan was even halfway down the line.

However, Bennett threw the ball over the head of first baseman Casey Kotchman.

“I honestly thought the ball went by him,” Morgan said. “That’s why I didn’t run hard out of the box. I definitely didn’t want my teammates seeing that there was no hustle there — I was kind of feeling bad a little bit — so I kicked it up a couple of notches when I was going around the bases.”

The ball rolled into shallow right field. Morgan easily made it to third base on the error.

The Pirates, however, wasted the scoring chance. Freddy Sanchez popped up on the infield and Delwyn Young struck out.

• After giving up 11 runs today against the Braves, the Pirates’ team ERA jumped up more than a half-point to 3.34. The Pirates began the day with the lowest team ERA in the majors.

• Double-A Altoona is the last team in professional baseball to win a game this year. The Curve had lost eight straight until a 7-5 victory Saturday against Erie. One bright spot: Altoona batters have struck out just 49 times, the lowest total in the Eastern League.

• Saturday’s game was briefly delayed in the top of the eighth inning while the grounds crew worked on the pitcher’s mound.

“Atlanta (pitchers) dug a mine-hole in there,” Ian Snell said. “It was huge. You’d get in it and it’d cause you to lean over to the left.”

• Right-hander Michael Dubee, who was acquired Friday when Andy Phillips was traded to the White Sox, was assigned to Class A Lynchburg. Pitcher R.J. Rodriguez was re-assigned to extended spring training.

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