Morales falls back to Earth vs. Yanks

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BOSTON -- Franklin Morales had been one of the most dominant starting pitchers in baseball since his first start of the season for the Red Sox on June 17 at Wrigley Field.

But on Saturday afternoon, the Yankees did not seem to care how great Morales has been, and they did not disappoint the large Yankees crowd in attendance. They were able to jump on Morales in the first inning and didn't look back until Morales was pulled after 3 1/3 innings.

Nick Swisher blasted a three-run home run in the first, and Andruw Jones went back-to-back, putting one over the Monster seats. In the top of the fourth inning, Jones was back at it again, hitting another homer off of Morales, who again gave up consecutive blasts as shortstop Jayson Nix went deep, ending Morales' day.

Morales ended up taking the loss, allowing six runs on six hits. He struck out two and walked two, and the four homers he allowed were a career-high.

Morales said that having faced lesser lineups like the Cubs and Mariners didn't factor in the way he pitched against the Yankees.

"No, I don't think into it too much," he said. "I only tried to make my pitches today, but instead I missed and lost command a little bit. When I started to throw strikes they hit it."

Sox manager Bobby Valentine and Morales both believed that the major problem Saturday was his command of his fastball.

"His fastball kept coming over the middle of the plate, obviously," Valentine said. "Instead of running away from the right-handers it was cutting in and he couldn't control it like he usually does on the outside part. He got hit throwing those fastballs in fastball hitter counts. He gave up home runs," Valentine said.

When asked about the difference in his fastball, Morales said, "I don't think about it too much. I just try to make my pitches, but today I missed with my two-seamer and I lost command for the first pitch for a strike. That is going to happen, that's part of the game. It is one game and I try to do the best I can. I lost control today a little bit and that's going to happen."

Catcher Kelly Shoppach concurred, saying, "He had a tough time getting in good pitchers' counts. Against a team like that, when you get behind they take advantage of your mistakes."

Morales is scheduled to make his next start following the All-Star break either at the American League East rival Tampa Bay Rays, or against Kevin Youkilis and his visiting Chicago White Sox.