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WSH@PIT: Morton tosses 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball

When Charlie Morton takes the hill Wednesday afternoon for the series finale between the Pirates and Mets, he'll be doing so with a victory under his belt for the first time this season.

The right-handed sinker-baller began his campaign 0-6 and, dating back to last year, had gone 15 starts without earning a win before facing the Nationals on Friday. He wasn't his most effective -- throwing a season-low 5 2/3 innings and allowing a run and four walks -- but the Pirates had just enough offense to hold off Washington.

Which, in essence, sums up the amount of variables that contribute to winning a game in the big leagues.

"It's not whether you win or lose, it's how long you pitch in the game," Morton said after his outing.

He clarified himself before Tuesday's game against the Mets.

"I don't want to throw meaningless innings," Morton said. "I want to have effective innings and hopefully throw a lot of them."

Still, there's no denying the psychological value of the "W" next to Morton's name, an imperfect, but finite indicator relating to some ambiguous form of team success.

"Yeah, I want to win," he said. "I don't believe that your personal record is indicative of how you pitch. I think there are other factors that attribute to wins and losses, but at the same time, the team is what matters, win or lose."

Morton will face a Mets hitting attack that has suffered mightily in the Citi Field confines. Entering Tuesday's game, New York as a team was hitting .222 (compared to a .255 average on the road) and is now 12-17 at home.

Impeding Morton's chances for a second win will be Bartolo Colon, who will make his first start since turning 41 on Saturday. His last outing Friday went four innings and was disrupted by an Aaron Hill two-run homer before rain erased his start.

So, technically speaking, he's still coming off his longest performance of the year -- eight innings against the Nationals in which he gave up just two runs, spreading around five hits. That came after Yankees hitters clobbered him for seven runs (six earned) in just 5 2/3 innings on May 12.

Still, in three starts at home, Colon has limited opponents with a 3.15 ERA, striking out 18 in 20 innings. He'll likely face hot lefty hitters Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez, both of whom didn't start Tuesday against Mets southpaw Jon Niese.

Mets: Black off to a quick start, picks up first win
Manager Terry Collins didn't waste any time utilizing his new arm in the bullpen.

Locked in a 2-2 game Tuesday night, Collins replaced Niese with Vic Black, making his first Major League appearance of the year and inheriting runners at first and second. After four straight balls to Neil Walker, the hard-throwing righty battled back and punched out Davis with a curveball in the dirt.

He remained in for the seventh inning, this time with a lead, and worked out of his own trouble. With two outs and runners at the corners, Black spun a curveball that froze Monday's hero, Gaby Sanchez, to end the threat, helping Black earn the victory.

Pirates: Harrison aiming for more than just utility role
For a while, Josh Harrison was just another guy on the bench to plug into the outfield or run the bases late in games. Since making his debut in 2011, Harrison jumped on and off the roster for three seasons. But 2014 has been different.

After becoming a reliable late-game defensive sub during April, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has rewarded Harrison with more time in the starting lineup.

Maybe more helpful for Hurdle is his versatility in the field. In May, he's played four different positions, including the two corner-outfield spots, shortstop, and third base, which he patrolled in Tuesday's contest.

"His versatility is going to help him," said Hurdle. "We're looking for days off for guys. ... Josh can fill that gap to give a guy a day off at second base, third base, right field, left field.

"He's swinging the bat well and providing an opportunity to touch the plate from the leadoff spot with the most consistency we've had. It's been done efficiently."

Worth noting
• Sanchez became the first player ever Monday to hit a pinch-hit homer to drive in his team's first run, and then later add a game-winning RBI on the road.

• Entering Tuesday, Davis was hitting .338 in 23 games in May and had reached base safely in 21 of them.

• David Wright has 36 hits this month, second most in the National League behind the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig. Comments