Washington (58-78) at Pittsburgh (45-90)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Pittsburgh, PA
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 1:35 pm EDT Sun Sep 5, 2010
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Among the Pittsburgh Pirates’ long list of beleaguered pitchers, nobody has had bigger problems this year than Charlie Morton(notes).

The right-hander will try again Sunday to turn around a dismal season as the Pirates and Washington Nationals decide their three-game set at PNC Park.

The Nationals (58-78) evened the series between last-place clubs by racking up 15 hits in a 9-2 win Saturday, another difficult night for the majors’ worst staff.

Pittsburgh (45-90) has a 5.21 ERA that is easily the big leagues’ highest, and opponents are hitting .316 in the Pirates’ last 11 games, averaging 7.1 runs and 11.9 hits in that stretch.

Morton (1-10, 10.03 ERA) did very little to help before going on the disabled list May 28 and spending nearly two months with Triple-A Indianapolis after he was activated.

His results were no better in his return to the majors last Sunday, when he gave up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings of an 8-4 loss at Milwaukee.

“It was bad. Frustrating,” Morton said. “I have to shake it off.”

If he doesn’t improve his numbers soon, Morton is on track for an ignominious distinction. Only four pitchers in major league history have made at least 10 starts in a season and finished with an ERA over 10.00.

“I know he’s worked really hard,” manager John Russell told the Pirates’ official website. “I think he’s going to be ready for it. We’re hoping that he comes around and does some of the good things that we know Charlie is capable of doing.”

Washington’s Jason Marquis(notes) (1-7, 8.13) would also like to forget much of 2010, but he has shown improvement after missing more than three months recovering from elbow surgery.

The right-hander has a 2.50 ERA in his last three starts, and he finally picked up his first victory Monday against Florida. Marquis had lost his previous 10 decisions dating to last September.

Beating the Pirates has been no problem for Marquis, whose 10 career wins against Pittsburgh are his most against any opponent. He’s posted a 1.59 ERA while winning his last three starts against the Pirates.

The Nationals will have manager Jim Riggleman back in the dugout after he served a two-game suspension for his role in a brawl with Florida last week.

Outfielder Nyjer Morgan(notes) - a former Pirate - was given an eight-game ban, but he has continued to play while appealing the penalty. He went 2 for 5 with an RBI in Saturday’s victory.

Veteran catcher Ivan Rodriguez(notes) led Washington’s outburst, going 3 for 5 with a home run and four RBIs.

“That’s why he’s a Hall Of Famer,” left-hander John Lannan(notes) said. “He’s going to have those days. The home run was huge - it put us over the top - and he was great behind the plate.”

Rookie shortstop Ian Desmond(notes) added three hits and an RBI, improving to 8 for 13 with four doubles in his last three games.

The Nationals, who’ve won four of five against Pittsburgh this year, are trying to win their first road series since they took two of three from the Mets from May 10-12.

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Starting Pitchers

J. Marquis Cin vs. C. Morton Pit
2-9 Record 2-12
6.60 ERA 7.57
31 K 59
24 BB 26
1.70 WHIP 1.73


Sunday, Sep 5