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Morgan takes advantage of long-awaited opportunity

Left-hander allows one run over 5 2/3 innings in MLB debut vs. Cardinals

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had waited almost an entire month for a starting pitcher to earn a win, so it seemed fitting that a pitcher who waited a long time for his opportunity to pitch in the big leagues finally made it happen.

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Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings in his big league debut Sunday afternoon in a 9-2 victory over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park. It was the rotation's first win since May 23, snapping a franchise-record 25 consecutive games without one.

"Just was very, very happy for the opportunity," Morgan said afterward. "Just very grateful."

Morgan, whom the Phillies drafted in the third round in 2011, was on the cusp of pitching in the big leagues in 2013, until he suffered a left shoulder injury that May. He tried rest and rehab, but he required surgery in January 2014. If the injury had not happened, he almost certainly would have started for the Phillies in 2013.

That season started with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan in the rotation. Halladay and Lannan suffered injuries, which allowed Jonathan Pettibone, Tyler Cloyd, Ethan Martin, Zach Miner and Raul Valdes to make a combined 42 starts.

"Obviously, when you start your rehabbing, it feels like forever away," Morgan said about Sunday's start. "That's where my support team comes in -- my family, my fiancée, her family, everybody around me, my good friends. Everybody helped me out. But it was a long road."

Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Morgan has earned another start, although because of Thursday's off-day, it is unclear when it will happen.

"He was given the opportunity and really stepped up," Sandberg said. "Really showed maturity out there and just under control. That was the most impressive part of it, and the way he made pitches."

Morgan said he felt no nerves before the game, although some veterans told him not to look up into the stands.

Keep his head down, they told him.

He did just that, too. But when Sandberg pulled him from the game in the sixth inning, he received a standing ovation from Phillies fans. He could not help but look up then.

"That's something I wanted to see," Morgan said. "It was amazing."

"Couldn't have been happier," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "Couldn't have happened to a better guy. He deserves it. He's worked hard to get back to where he is from where he was when he got drafted, and I couldn't be happier for him."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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