Morgan fends off tomahawk chop in return home

Phillies rookie shines in front of family and friends in Atlanta

Morgan fends off tomahawk chop in return home

ATLANTA -- Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan grew up about 30 minutes north of Turner Field, so he probably imagined himself pitching in the big leagues in front of his family and friends.

Those aspirations became reality Friday night in a 2-1 loss to the Braves.

"It was fun," Morgan said after pitching seven innings. "It was definitely something I won't forget. A lot of people that couldn't make it to Philly for my debut [June 21] were here. We would always just come over here, tailgate in the blue lot, buy the $5 will-call tickets and just watch the game."

Morgan escapes a jam in the 6th

Morgan and his friends probably participated in the tomahawk chop a few times. He found it used against him Friday.

"I knew it was coming," he said. "I really prepared myself for it. It was kind of cool. I hummed along with it."

Morgan, 25, allowed five hits, two runs, two walks and struck out five. He allowed first-pitch home runs to Jonny Gomes and Juan Uribe in the second and seventh innings, respectively, to take the loss. But Morgan gave the Phillies rotation something it had seriously lacked in more than two weeks: length.

Morgan's seven innings were the most by a Phillies starter not named Cole Hamels since May 14, when Aaron Harang pitched eight innings against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Phillies starters had not pitched six or more innings in 13 of 16 games since June 15, which had put a tremendous strain on the bullpen. Phillies relievers had thrown 65 2/3 innings in those 16 games -- only 12 1/3 innings fewer than Phillies starters -- the most of any bullpen in baseball.

The bullpen should buy Morgan dinner for his efforts.

Morgan's reaches first

"This is the kind of guy we're looking for," Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said. "We need a guy that at 100 pitches can go seven or eight innings. That's what we want. Then it makes my job easier. I don't have to worry too much about the bullpen."

Gomes' homer in the second handed the Braves a 1-0 lead. Morgan retired the side in order in the third and fifth innings, becoming the first Phillies starter since June 15 to have two 1-2-3 innings in a start. Uribe then hit a first-pitch slider for a homer in the seventh to make it 2-1.

"I was very comfortable going out there for the seventh inning," Morgan said. "I just didn't execute."

Mackanin could have pulled Morgan for a pinch-hitter in the seventh, but he stuck with him for a very specific reason.

"I'm trying to learn about him," Mackanin said. "[Pitching coach] Bob McClure is big on that. He wants to see guys when they get tired to see what they do with it. Because you're not always going to feel 100 percent. You're going to get tired. When you need that guy to stay in there and get out of trouble this is the kind of guy you're looking for."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.