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PIT@COL: Morton holds Rockies to four over six frames

After returning home from a 10-game West Coast road trip that featured some tested tempers, the Pirates begin an eight-game homestand Tuesday when the Marlins visit PNC Park.

"This was a challenging point of the season," manager Clint Hurdle said of the trip. "We got nothing planned [for the off-day Monday] -- returning home, especially with the time change, absolutely encourage everybody to just take a day off."

The day of rest may be coming at a particularly good time for Andrew McCutchen, who left Sunday's game in the eighth inning after he suffered a left side injury on a game-tying sac fly.

When the Pirates do resume playing, sinkerballer Charlie Morton will take the hill. Morton made two starts on the road trip, neither of them going as well as he would've liked.

Against the Rockies on July 25, Morton allowed four runs on seven hits for his 10th loss of the season. He gave up four runs again in his last outing, this time in five innings against the Giants. San Francisco tagged Morton for nine hits, and the right-hander didn't aid his line with three walks and his Major League-leading 18th hit batter of the season.

The Marlins turn to left-hander Brad Hand to begin the three-game set, and Hand has gone at least seven innings in each of his last three outings, all quality starts.

Hand has a 2.70 ERA since the Marlins started using him as a starter in early July. Before the Nats scored two in the eighth, Hand retired 21 of 24 batters after a first-inning run on Wednesday.

Though he pitched deep into the game and allowed just five hits, Hand said he didn't have his "best stuff."

"Not very many first-pitch strikes," he added after the start. "[I] just battled today."

Pirates: Bucs mulling move to 1B for Alvarez
After another unfortunate night at third base for Pedro Alvarez, Pirates brass at least is considering the possibility that the hot corner may have gotten too hot for the defending National League home run co-king.

Before being pulled in the seventh inning of a tie game Saturday night, Alvarez had committed his 22nd throwing error of the season, and also threw two others balls into the dirt saved from errors by first baseman Ike Davis.

Hurdle said Sunday morning that club officials are "having conversations" about moving Alvarez across the infield to first base.

"I'm still involved in some discussions," Hurdle said. "Hypothetically, is [a position switch] something you entertain during a pennant race?"

Marlins: Saltalamacchia sidelined with stiff back
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed his second straight game Sunday due to stiffness in his back, according to manager Mike Redmond.

The Marlins' everyday catcher, Saltalamacchia has not played since Friday, and Jeff Mathis has filled in behind the plate.

In his first season with the Marlins, Saltalamacchia has a slash line of .224/.324/.398 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in 76 games.

Meanwhile, Mathis has been swinging a hot bat as of late. He doubled and scored the game-winning run in the 10th inning on Saturday night, and followed that up with a 2-for-4 showing in Sunday's 7-3 loss to Cincinnati to raise his average to .203.

Worth noting
• The Pirates took two of three games earlier this season when they faced the Marlins in Miami on June 13-15.

• The Marlins had won three consecutive series before dropping their weekend set against the Reds.

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