CINCINNATI -- Pirates general manager Neal Huntington was meeting with coaches and staff in Cincinnati to discuss player evaluations and preparing for what could be an active offseason.

Huntington has been pleased with what he's seen from the team during this weekend's series at Great American Ball Park despite losses in the first two games of the series.

The Pirates have received solid starting pitching and some timely hitting during consecutive late-inning rallies.

"We've battled back against some playoff-caliber teams," Huntington said. "It's a great sign. We're continuing to fight and compete. Cincinnati is fighting for its playoff lives. It's a test for our young players."

Huntington is most encouraged by the performance of the youngsters on the Pirates' active roster.

"What's exciting is that it's [Andrew] McCutchen, it's [Jose] Tabata, it's [Neil] Walker," he said. "It's guys who are going to be important pieces for us going forward."

Still, the next step is winning. The Pirates have just three road victories since July 27.

"At the same time, we have to play the game the right way," Huntington said. "We've got to have the foundation in fundamentals. As always, we'll look at various places where we can upgrade. We have to be smart about how we use our resources. We can't just throw [millions of dollars] at somebody just to make ourselves feel good."

Morton hopes to build on successful outing

CINCINNATI -- Charlie Morton might have turned the corner, if his outing on Saturday night is any indication.

"I've been working on taking it one pitch at a time," Morton said.

The right-hander went 6 1/3 innings for the Pirates on Saturday night, allowing three runs and six hits. He walked one and struck out two, needing just 69 pitches.

Morton is 1-11 with a 9.05 ERA in 13 starts. Manager John Russell would like to see the even-keeled Morton channel his emotions on the mound.

"It's a fine line," Russell said. "You teach players to control their emotions. But you have to have that competitive fire. Charlie has that. It's how you use that aggressive mentality. It can be a plus or a minus."

Pirates shake up lineup for finale vs. Reds

CINCINNATI -- The Pirates shook up their lineup for Sunday's series finale against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Lastings Milledge was making his first start since Sept. 4, playing left and batting seventh. Alex Presley was making his first career start in right, batting second, and John Bowker was making his third start at first base.

Worth noting

With his first-inning single on Sunday, Neil Walker extended his career-long hitting streak to 18 games, equaling the longest streak by a Pirates rookie since Rennie Stennett hit safely in 18 games in 1971. ... The Altoona Curve beat Harrisburg, 10-5, on Saturday to clinch a berth in the Eastern League championship series for the second time in team history. The Curve will host Trenton (Yankees) in Game 1 on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. ET.