CHICAGO (AP) - Charlie Morton has struggled all season to find consistency in his pitching motion.
He still hasn't quite figured it out.
Pirates pitchers dealt 10 free passes - nine walks and a hit batter - as the Chicago Cubs beat Pittsburgh 6-3 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Morton (9-9) allowed four runs - three earned - on seven hits. He struck out two and walked five and was done in by two errors by shortstop Ronny Cedeno.
The righty let the first two runners reach in each of the first three innings and only retired one leadoff batter he faced.
``We were sloppy on the mound, we were sloppy on the field. Sometimes it's contagious,' Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. ``There's no excuses, we didn't play a good game today. We definitely didn't play well enough to win.'
Morton and pitching coach Ray Searage reworked his arm slot in spring training and have seen moments of brilliance from the 27-year-old, who is still in search of his 10th win of the year.
``Those are some things I should be figuring out by now. I know the whole arm slot thing is fairly new, but I'd hope and assume that I'd have it going by now,' Morton said. ``Even from last outing to this outing, my arm slot has changed, my release point has changed. I just have to buckle down and realize what's going on and make an adjustment.'
The Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs in the first three innings, but failed to score until the third thanks to Cedeno's error.
Trailing 1-0, Carlos Pena hit a sharp grounder to Neil Walker at second base. Walker made a low throw to Cedeno, who was covering second to get one out, but Cedeno's throw to Lee at first was wide, allowing Tony Campana to score from second on the overthrow.
With two outs in the fourth inning and Koyie Hill on second, Starlin Castro hit a grounder to third baseman Josh Harrison. Harrison fielded the grounder, but his throw to first took Lee off the base so Lee attempted to tag Castro.
First baseman umpire Jim Wolf ruled Lee's tag did not make contact with Castro. Hill, who never stopped on the base paths ended up scoring from second on the play. Lee argued with Wolf and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle came out of the dugout to also have an animated discussion with Wolf to no avail.
The Cubs added to its lead in the fifth. With runners on first and second and no outs, LaHair hit a ball that brushed Morton's jersey. Cedeno fielded the grounder but the ball rolled out of his mitt, allowing LaHair to reach safely on the error.
Randy Wells was impressive again after pitching his first career shutout in Monday's 7-0 win over the Giants. He pitched a two-hitter to outduel Tim Lincecum in his first career complete game.
Wells (7-4) allowed one run while scattering seven hits. He struck out two and walked two. He is 6-1 over his last eight outings after going 0-3 with a 7.38 ERA in his first nine starts once returning from the disabled list.
``Early, they made me throw a lot of pitches and we did a good job of limiting the damage and fighting our way to get our offense to score some runs,' Wells said.
Walker hit a two-run shot in the eighth and Derrek Lee had three hits for the Pirates, who have lost six of eight.
After hitting a go-ahead grand slam in the ninth during Saturday's win, Lee hit an opposite field RBI single in the first inning to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Since joining the Pirates, all nine of Lee's RBIs have come against the Cubs.
Lee is 6 for 9 with a grand slam since returning from the disabled list Saturday.
NOTES: Pirates RHP Jeff Karstens (shoulder soreness) played long toss on Sunday. The team plans to schedule a bullpen and get an ``accurate read' on when Karstens will make his next start by Tuesday. ... The Pirates recalled INF Pedro Ciriaco on Sunday. It's his sixth stint in the big leagues this season. The team did not have to make a corresponding move since rosters expanded. ... James McDonald is the Pirates scheduled starter for Monday against the Astros. He has received zero run support in his last two starts. ... Cubs RHP Matt Garza is Monday's scheduled starter against the Reds. He is 0-2 with 5.06 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati.
The Associated Press News Service
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