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Notes: Morris focused on future

Notes: Morris focused on future

PHOENIX -- Try to ignore Matt Morris' statistics. Forget the seven losses, the 1-6 record and 5.16 ERA over his last 10 starting assignments, the illusion that he's not the pitcher he once was, that his career is on the fast track to oblivion.

Forget all of that.

The 31-year-old right-hander will make his team-leading 14th start Thursday night vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field, and maybe this time out Morris will pitch well -- once again -- but finally get an elusive victory.

Not that he's sweating it out, going into a funk at being 3-7, 5.13 overall.

"You move on," said Morris of his mind-set. "As long as you dwell on negative things, the more they're going to linger. You can only control so much, and if you go out there and control what you can, you've got to be able to look in the mirror and be true.

"You can always pitch better," said Morris, who prior to this season had never lost more than six games before the All-Star break, who has lowered his ERA 1.07 points during his last five starts yet is 1-3 in that stretch.

Run support has been skimpy for the 10-year pitcher. He pitched eight innings against Pittsburgh on June 9, giving up only three runs, but lost, 3-2. He pitched two quality starts the previous two outings yet incurred a loss and a no-decision.

You'd figure this was eating the man alive.

"It's just trying to stay consistent and mainly after the game ends it's feeling good about what you did, win, lose or draw," he said. "Right now I'm comfortable and feel confident going into my next start and it's been like that the past couple of weeks.

"The stats are a reflection of what [how you're doing] to a point," he said. "Everybody who's lost games during the season has lost 1-0 and 2-1, so it's just part of the game. It's unlucky, I think, because I've had years where I've pitched similar to this and the game I've pitched well we happened to hit. And the games I didn't pitch well they happened to hit."

Manager Felipe Alou says he wouldn't ask Morris to change a thing.

"He's been improving and given us the innings," said Alou. "He's been pitching well."

Winn rests: Everybody wants to be called an "everyday player" but few actually are technically. Giants third sacker Pedro Feliz has played in all 64 games and outfielder Randy Winn has appeared in 63 -- but was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday.

Winn has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games with a .304 average.

"I'm trying to do something different," said Alou, who put Steve Finley into the leadoff spot for the first time this season. "I told Finley he'll play two games here -- he usually does well here. Winn has hit the ball hard but I gotta play Finley. He hasn't played for a while."

Yeah but, what about poor Feliz? Isn't he wearing out? Apparently not. Feliz is hitting .316 with nine doubles, seven homers and 25 RBIs in his last 44 games, dating back to April 16.

"He's more or less a stud -- he can play every day," said Alou.

Cain a closer? When Alou looks at Wednesday's starter Matt Cain -- the arm, the power -- he sees a younger version of famed closer John Wetteland, who saved 330 games over a 12-year career, mainly with Montreal, New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers.

"He's a work in progress," said Alou of Cain, "but he has awesome stuff, including power at this stage and he's going to get it down -- it's a matter of time."

Could Cain be a good closer? Yes, says the skipper.

"Any guy who throws like that .... he could pitch 97, 98 [mph] for an inning," said Alou. "But we'd like to have a guy like that pitch every fifth day."

Matheny at home: Giants catcher Mike Matheny, currently sidelined with a concussion sustained May 31 at Florida, is resting with his family in Chesterfield, Mo., just outside St. Louis.

"We wanted him to be away from everything," said Alou. "He'll be with us when we get back home. We'll see how he is -- he'll have to be examined again."

Matheny's recovery from multiple baseballs ricocheting off his face mask has been predictably slow. He is prone to concussions and the Giants will make sure he's fully healthy before he can play again.

The good news is backups Todd Greene and rookie Eliezer Alfonzo have played well in his stead. Greene is batting .404 in his 13 starting assignments (.368 overall) while Alfonzo has hit safely in six of his seven starts, batting .269 with two homers and five RBIs.

Coming up: Morris (3-7, 5.13 ERA), who'll oppose the D-Backs' Miguel Batista (6-3, 4.69 ERA) in a 3:40 p.m. PT start Thursday at Chase Field in the finale of the three-game series, is 3-1 with a 4.39 ERA over his last four starts vs. Arizona in Phoenix.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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