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Pirates notebook: Morton plans to tweak his 'bread and butter' pitch

| Sunday, May 6, 2012, 8:20 p.m.

Charlie Morton believes there's something wrong with his sinker.

The right-hander allowed seven hits and five runs (four earned) in six innings of Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Reds, but most concerning for Morton were the long home runs hit by Todd Frazier and Drew Stubbs.

Morton has allowed four homers this season, and all four have been to right-handed batters who hit his best pitch. Last season, Morton allowed six home runs, and only one was hit by a righty.

“The one thing that I was really good at last year was getting ground balls from righties,” he said. “They weren't hitting me. To have given up four home runs now — all to righties and to deep parts of the park — it's the kind of feedback where you have to look at it objectively and say there's something you have to do a little bit different.”

But first, Morton said, he needs to understand what needs to change. He has lost two straight starts but doesn't plan anything drastic.

“I'm not saying I'm going to overhaul anything, but I've got to tweak something to get my bread and butter back, because that's what it is,” he said. “That sinker is what I am. It will come. It's just frustrating.”

Morton fell to 1-3 with a 4.61 ERA but said he believes he's pitching better in other areas, especially against lefties. After yesterday's homers, Morton said, he threw a couple of sinkers that he liked better.

He expected to watch video and work on the pitch during his next bullpen session.

“I feel like it needs adjusting,” he said. “There needs to be some kind of tweaking, whether it's from a mentality standpoint or a physical standpoint.”

• The Pirates decided to rest center fielder Andrew McCutchen yesterday, giving him a couple of extra days to recover from the stomach flu. After missing Friday's game, he rejoined the lineup Saturday and went 1 for 3 with a walk. “He's not in a good place physically,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “You saw him play (Saturday) night. … He went out and tried. I think we're best served with just giving him a break, give him a day off (today) and we'll revisit it on Tuesday.”

• The Reds tied a team record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game with 17. They also had 17 against the Cubs on May 16, 1998.

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