Pearce’s Hit In The Ninth Wins Sloppy Game For Bucs

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The Pirates headed to Port Charlotte, Florida to face the Tampa Bay Rays in Spring Training action this afternoon.  Pittsburgh was looking to find their winning ways after two straight defeats at the hand of the Yankees and Orioles.  This would be the fifth time of the spring that these two teams would meet, having split their previous four meeting.  The Buccos sent James McDonald to the hill and Tampa countered with Wade Davis.
Pittsburgh got to Davis with one run in the first inning.  Pedro Alvarez hammered a two-out double, scoring Andrew McCutchen from second base. 
The Rays’ pitcher was tagged the next inning with three more runs.  With the bases loaded, Jose Tabata grounded into a force out at second base, allowing Josh Fields to score.  Ronny Cedeno later scored to make it 3-0 when Garrett Jones singled to right field.  McCutchen would finish the scoring in the inning with a single to right, scoring Tabata from third base. 
Tampa cut the lead to 4-1 in the bottom part of the inning when Desmond Jennings singled, scoring Felipe Lopez.  The Rays cut the lead in the half in the third inning w hen Casey Kotchman singled to score Sean Rodriguez from second base.  McDonald lasted only two innings, giving up four hits and two runs, one of them earned, and walking two batters.
Brian Burres replaced McDonald in the third inning.  While he didn’t give up any runs, Burres did have control issues, walking four batters in three innings of work, while giving up two hits and striking out one batter.
Both teams found offense life in the sixth inning.  The Buccos struck first, increasing the lead to a commanding 7-2.  All three of the runs came with two outs in the inning.  Josh Rodriguez scored from first on a Dusty Brown double, which was followed by John Bowker’s pinch-hit two-run homerun off of Tampa pitcher Kyle Farnsworth.
The Rays battled back again in the bottom half of the frame.  Like the Pirates, they, too, scored all of their runs in the inning with two outs.  Jose Lobaton singled in Stephen Vogt.  Justin Thomas replaced Daniel Moskos on the mound for the Pirates, who would leave the game with the bases loaded.  The first batter Thomas faced doubled in two runs to cut the Buccos’ lead to 7-5.  After the final out of the inning, the Pirates were only leading by a single run.
Tampa Bay tied the game in the eighth inning on Lobaton’s RBI single.  But the Buccos had the last laugh as Steve Pearce, who is fighting for a spot on the Buccos’ roster, singled Andrew Lambo home to make the score 8-7, which would be the final score.
The win improves the Pirates’ Spring Training record to 7-8, which equals their Grapefruit League win total of 2010.  It was a sloppy pitching performance by both teams.  As Fans From The Stands has said in the past, the Pirates need consistent pitching performances from their starters and bullpen if they hope to show improvement in 2011.  Pittsburgh will play their final split squad scrimmage of the spring when they host the Phillies and travel to Toronto on Saturday.  Both games are scheduled for a 1:05pm first pitch.
As Always…
Let’s Go Bucs!

Chad Carlson

Co-Editor of Fans From The Stands, Pirates' Beat Writer For Armchair Report, Sports writer for AMN, SteelTownRock And Music City Encore Editor

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