The righty started out in trouble when Alexi Casilla lined a single and Ryan Flaherty doubled, both to right, but escaped giving up just a run on a sac fly. The Bucs countered against Wei-Yin Chen. Starling Marte continued his strong spring with a leadoff single to left, stole second and went to third when the throw got away. Jose Tabata, who looks like a throwback to his 2010 campaign, bopped a sac fly to knot the score.
McPherson got through the second in good shape, just yielding a flare single to center, but the third was to be his downfall. He got himself in trouble by bopping Casilla and walking Flaherty to open the frame. A whiff followed, but then three consecutive hits made it 4-1. Pittsburgh answered when Marte walked, stole second and plated on a smoked single to right by Alvarez off new pitcher Tommy Hunter..
He was spared another tally when Pedro made a heads-up play at the hot corner, going home instead of taking the sure out at first to cut down the potential fifth run. Alvarez had a couple more strong plays during his outing, showing off his arm by throwing out one Oriole on a back hand play that carried him into foul territory and gunning out another O on a dribbler up the left side.
Kris Johnson, Mike Zagurski and Bryan Morris came on for the next three frames and mowed down Baltimore, Johnson and Morris getting a pair of groundouts and a K while Zagurski struck out the side. Hunter put up a goose egg in the fourth, and Brian Matusz took over in the fifth.
Vic Black came on in the seventh, and had control problems. He gave up a pair of walks and a single, but the only run that came in was on a Lew Ford wind-assisted dinger to right, making it 5-2. The Bucs got that back in their half off Daniel Schlereth. Jerry Sands reached on a error, moved to second on a grounder, went to third on Clint Barmes' infield knock and scored on a passed ball.
The Orioles added one more in the ninth of Eric Cordier, who couldn't find the dish. LJ Hoes singled, but was caught stealing by Carlos Paulino. Cordier then walked Ford, sent him to second on a wayward pick-off try, and brought him home with back-to-back wild pitches. He walked the next pair of Birds and gave up a single to load the bases before getting Russ Canzler on a shallow fly out. Nathan Baker came on to get the last out, a pop up by ex-Bucco infielder Yamaico Navarro.
The Bucs got six hits and struck out nine times as the attack is yet to hit on all cylinders, while control issues again bit the staff. But it should be getting close to the first cut-down time, and as the roster is pared, the play should tighten up.
AJ Burnett faces the Twins this afternoon at McKechnie Field.
- The game drew 6,353 fans, a record crowd for a Pirates night game at McKechnie Field, the only night game on this year's spring schedule. It was also fireworks night, so that was an irresistible draw for any Pittsburgh natives in the area to the park.
- Mexico beat the US 5-2 yesterday; Bucco blast from the past Humberto Cota came in late to catch for the Latin club. Ollie Perez also made a brief appearance as a LOOGY.