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Morris promoted to Double-A Altoona

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CHICAGO — Right-hander Bryan Morris today was promoted to Double-A Altoona. If he pitches as well there as he did at Class A Bradenton, Morris might get up to Triple-A Indianapolis by season’s end.

Morris went 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA in eight starts (44.2 innings, 37 hits, seven walks, 40 strikeouts) for Bradenton.

“If he can sustain what he’s doing, he might be able to jump another level (to Indy) by August,” GM Neal Huntington said this afternoon on his weekly radio show. “He’s really made great strides.”

Morris, 23, was an integral part of the Jason Bay trade in July 2008. He missed the 2007 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, then pitched at the low-A level in 2008.

Last season, Morris went 4-9 with a 5.57 ERA for Class A Lynchburg.

— Huntington again downplayed the possibility of the Pirates taking junior college catcher Bryce Harper in the draft.

“We don’t feel he’s clearly the No. 1 (pick),” Huntington said. “But if he is No. 1 on our board when it’s our turn, we will select him.”

The Pirates have the second overall pick in the draft, which begins June 7. Harper, who was dubbed “the LeBron James of baseball” by Sports Illustrated, is advised by super-agent Scott Boras.

— Today was the first time in 15 games this season the Pirates lost when leading in the sixth inning. It also snapped the Pirates’ seven-game win streak against the Cubs. … Andrew McCutchen reached base safely in 10 of 14 plate appearances in the three-game series. He batted .667 (8 for 12) with six runs, two walks, one homer and three RBI. … Before lining the game-winning RBI single in the eighth inning, Chicago’s Xavier Nady was 0 for 10 as a pinch-hitter. His previous pinch hit came July 19, 2008, while he was playing for the Pirates.

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