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Better things from Morton

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CINCINNATI — Charlie Morton pitched well last night. No, really.

Things could’ve blown up on him in the second inning, when the Reds loaded the bases with none out. But after Drew Stubbs’ sacrifice fly, Morton got Miguel Cairo to ground into an inning-ending double play. Earlier this season, that kind of inning would’ve mushroomed into a three-, five- or seven-run nightmare.

What was the difference this time? “I wasn’t worried about it,” Morton said. “I’m standing out there and it looks like the same old story, but in my mind, it wasn’t. That’s the only way I can describe it. We’re working on me going one pitch at a time.”

»»» Kudos to Double-A Altoona, which is in the Eastern League title series for the first time since 2004. Veteran lefty Andy Pettite, who’s on a rehab assignment, is expected to start for the Trenton Yankees in Tuesday’s series opener. First pitch is 6:30 p.m. at Blair County Ballpark.

»»» Stats, streaks and slumps: The Pirates are 4-7 in extra innings. … Pedro Alvarez went 0 for 4 last night, snapping his seven-game hitting streak. … Jose Tabata notched his 100th hit. He and Neil Walker (108 hits) are the first Pirates rookie teammates to each have at least 100 hits in a season since Tony Womack (178 hits) and Jose Guillen (133) in 1997. … The Pirates are 40-2 this year when leading after eight innings.

Lineups for this afternoon’s game:

Pirates (47-94) – 1. Andrew McCutchen 8, 2. Alex Presley rf, 3. Neil Walker 2b, 4. Pedro Alvarez 3b, 5. John Bowker 1b, 6. Ryan Doumit rf, 7. Lastings Milledge lf, 8. Ronny Cedeno ss, 9. Brian Burres (3-3, 5.75) lhp

Reds (81-61) – 1. Brandon Phillips 2b, 2. Orlando Cabrera ss, 3. Joey Votto 1b, 4. Jonny Gomes lf, 5. Ramon Hernandez c, 6. Miguel Cairo 3b, 7. Drew Stubbs cf, 8. Chris Heisey rf, 9. Johnny Cueto (12-5, 3.45) rhp

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