Morton allowed one run in seven innings, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates win for only the third time in their past 20 games, 5-1 over the San Diego Padres Friday night.
Morton (4-8) had lost six of his past seven decisions and had a 7.13 ERA since the beginning of August but shook off a rough first inning Friday to allow only six hits and a walk.
"I think he's gaining confidence a little bit, starting to feel a little more comfortable in what he's doing," Pirates manager John Russell said. "He's young and we've got to continue to build off this. He has made very good strides. If we can get him a little more consistent game in and game out and maintain that, he's going to be good. He has great stuff -- if we can get him in the zone like he was tonight."
Lastings Milledge went 2 for 3 with an RBI and Garrett Jones was on base three times for last-place Pittsburgh (56-89), which entered the game on a three-game losing streak and having lost eight of nine.
Earlier this season, the Pirates assured themselves of a 17th straight losing season.
Everth Cabrera went 3 for 4 and scored a run for the Padres, who have lost three of four after a stretch in which they went 9-3.
"We just couldn't get hits tonight when we had opportunities with guys on base, and their guy got better as the game went on," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "We just couldn't get anything going."
Morton, acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Nate McLouth trade June 3, did not allow a hit with a runner on base during the game. He has allowed three runs or less in five of his past seven outings.
"I found my curveball was working, even early in counts, and to be able to get ahead with the curveball is huge for me," Morton said. "I haven't been able to do it all year consistently, and it's good when you have two pitches you can go to early in counts. Tonight I was more fastball-curveball, which is how I like to be and then have that changeup in my pocket."
After the Padres took a 1-0 lead against Morton in the top of the first on Adrian Gonzalez's sacrifice fly, Pittsburgh scored three times in the bottom of the inning on only two hits.
"I really didn't have anything out there today," Stauffer said. "I tried to make some pitches and wasn't able to make the big pitch when I needed to. I fell behind, and I just wasn't real consistent with anything tonight."
Neither team scored again until the seventh, when Ryan Doumit's single drove in McCutchen. McCutchen added a sacrifice fly in the eighth to make it 5-1.
The Padres won each of Stauffer's previous four outings. After allowing only one run in six-plus innings during each of the past three games, Stauffer gave up three runs on four hits and four walks in three innings.
The Pirates hit two triples for an inning for only the second time this season and did so during the first inning for the first time since Aug. 11, 2005 at Colorado. ... Stauffer threw 40 pitches in the first inning. ... Pittsburgh 2B Delwyn Young missed his second consecutive game due to lower back spasms and 3B Andy LaRoche was a late scratch because of illness. ... The game was the beginning of the final homestand of the season for the Pirates and the final roadtrip of the season for the Padres.