From Mirror reports
READING - Charlie Morton continued his progress back to the major leagues after Tommy John surgery with a solid outing, but he couldn't prevent the Curve from dropping their fourth straight game Tuesday night.
Morton worked 4 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits, but Altoona's offense was shut out for the seventh time this season in a 3-0 loss to Reading at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Curve have been blanked twice and have managed only six runs total in their four-game losing streak.
Morton was scheduled to go five innings or 80 pitches. He made it right to the 80-pitch mark, throwing 48 strikes, but a walk to the opposing pitcher in the fifth inning helped prevent him from going five full frames.
Morton (1-1), in his fourth rehab start for the Curve, gave up a run in the second inning but minimized the damage with the help of a double play. In the fifth, he walked pitcher Jesse Biddle with two outs, then allowed an RBI double to Tyson Gillies that gave the Fightin Phils a 2-0 lead.
Morton was lifted after that hit, and the Curve bullpen held Reading to a run on only two hits the rest of the way. But Altoona's offense once again was the problem as the team has fallen back into its immense struggles scoring during the losing streak.
Tonight: Altoona at Reading, 6:35 p.m.
Pitchers: Curve RHP?David Bromberg (2-4, 4.65) vs. Fightin Phils LHP?Greg Smith?(1-2, 3.50)
The Curve managed only four hits, and after coming on strong at the plate during its last homestand, the club has fallen way back once again in the Eastern League offensive categories. The team's batting average of .223 is 27 points lower than any other club.
Reading, at 16-26, has the EL's worst record, but the Fightin Phils have been able to take the first two games of the series with ease.
Biddle (3-3) allowed only three hits and struck out nine with four walks over 7 2/3 scoreless innings. Mauricio Robles finished off the shutout by throwing the final 1 1/3 innings.
Key player: LHP Jesse Biddle shut out the Curve on three hits for 7 2/3 innings.
Key play: CF Tyson Gillies gave Reading a 2-0 lead in the fifth with a two-out double off RHP Charlie Morton.
Key stat: The Curve have lost four in a row, have been shut out in two of those and have managed just six runs total.
How they scored
Bottom 2nd: Collier singled, scored on Hanzawa double play groundout (0-1).
Bottom 5th: Biddle walked, scored on Gillies double (0-2).
Bottom 7th: Collier solo homer (0-3).