Pirates' Lincoln looks sharp in victory over Marlins

Rob Biertempfel
| Monday, May 14, 2012, 10:04 p.m.

MIAMI —Is there room for Brad Lincoln in the Pirates' starting rotation? He made a strong case for a job Monday with a sharp performance in a 3-2 victory against the Miami Marlins.

Lincoln pitched six innings and allowed two runs on four hits. He threw 80 pitches and his fastball still was showing plenty of life at the end.

“Wow, that's a big-time effort,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We couldn't have asked for anything more. He was gassed at the end.”

The right-hander made his first seven appearances this season out of the bullpen. As a reliever, Lincoln posted a 0.63 ERA and racked up 16 strikeouts in 14 13 innings.

Lincoln made a spot start last night in place of Erik Bedard, who needs extra rest to recover from back spasms. Bedard is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in Washington against the Nationals.

“I was going out there and giving them what I've got,” Lincoln said. “That's what was asked of me. Attack the zone, be efficient, try to get deep into the game and save the bullpen a little bit. Eighty pitches might have been pushing it a little bit, but I told Clint after the fifth inning that I wasn't tired at all, and I was able to get through (the sixth).”

A first-round pick in 2006, Lincoln has gotten shots at earning a rotation spot before, but has never nailed it down. In 17 previous starts, he went 3-7 with a 5.54 ERA.

“The last couple of years, I was timid about finding the plate,” Lincoln said. “Now, I'm going to let it go and come right at you. If you beat me, you beat me. If not, good things will happen.”

Although Lincoln mowed down the Marlins, it's not easy to crack the Pirates' rotation. The team will have a surplus of starters in a couple of weeks, when righty Jeff Karstens (shoulder) comes off the disabled list.

The Pirates could use one of those starters as a trade chip to acquire a bat. The top four spots in the order are beginning to come around, but the rest of the lineup continues to struggle.

The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning against Anibal Sanchez (2-1). Jose Tabata doubled to right field and went to third on Neil Walker's fly out.

Andrew McCutchen followed with a sacrifice fly. The Pirates are 10-1 this year when he collects at least one RBI.

In the bottom of the inning, the Marlins tied it on Hanley Ramirez's 419-foot home run to left field. The Pirates regained the lead in the second. Rod Barajas dumped a solo homer into the Marlins' bullpen beyond the left field wall.

Logan Morrison led off the bottom of the fourth with a double off the right field wall. He scored on Emilio Bonifacio's two-out single to center.

With one out in the sixth, McCutchen singled to left. Alvarez followed with a double for his 100th career RBI.

Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or 412-320-7811.

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