Pirates climb back to .500 with 8-1 victory over Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pirates pitcher Edinson Volquez felt strong enough to go the distance Monday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Volquez didn't hurl a complete game, but he did pitch eight innings for the first time in more than a year as the Pirates routed the Rays, 8-1, and climbed back to .500 at 38-38.
“I was too fresh from the last time, when I only pitched two innings,” Volquez said with a laugh.
In the wake of one of the worst outings of his career — an eight-run, 21⁄3-inning nightmare Wednesday against Cincinnati — Volquez (5-6) was solid against Tampa.
The right-hander gave up one run and five hits, walked two and struck out one. It was Volquez's first eight-inning outing since May 28, 2013, when he was with the San Diego Padres.
“I had a good performance tonight,” Volquez said. “The whole team did.”
Pedro Alvarez capped a four-run third inning by hitting a titanic three-run homer. Andrew McCutchen had three hits and two RBIs. The defense turned three double plays.
Volquez's short outing last week taxed the bullpen. It was so bad that Volquez would have been used as an emergency reliever if a game had gotten out of hand last weekend against the Chicago Cubs.
Volquez didn't change his routine between starts, but manager Clint Hurdle believes he was more intense Monday than before.
“Sometimes, it's the work you do between starts,” Hurdle said. “Sometimes, it's just knowing you've got to bounce back. He went out with more focus.”
With his pitch count only around 60 in the fifth inning, Volquez thought he had a shot at what would have been his second career complete game.
“I was thinking about it,” Volquez said. “But then I walked a couple guys, and I was like, ‘Well, maybe not.' ”
With one out in the first inning, Starling Marte squared to bunt at Alex Cobb's first pitch, but the ball nicked him on the shoulder. After Marte stole second base, McCutchen rolled a single into center field.
Instead of taking off for third, Marte took a couple of quick steps back toward second. Marte might have thought the shortstop had a chance at the ball and didn't want to run into another 6-5 putout.
Whatever the reason, it caused McCutchen to laugh and spread his arms as if to say, “What gives?” as he ran to first base.
Marte scored on Josh Harrison's groundout. McCutchen scored on Russell Martin's infield single to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
McCutchen got the third-inning rally going with a run-scoring single. It was his 52nd RBI in interleague play, moving McCutchen ahead of Brian Giles for the most in Pirates history.
With two outs, Harrison walked. Cobb then threw a first-pitch fastball to Alvarez and immediately hung his head.
“It was supposed to be in a little bit more,” Cobb said. “I'd thrown a few changeups, so I thought I might've had the inner half opened up a little bit. But it's tough to sneak a fastball down the middle.”
Alvarez launched the ball 419 feet to center field, crashing it near the top of the batter's eye.
It was Alvarez's 12th home run of the season and the first time he knocked in a run since June 7.
“A lot of times, people have been taking their chances with Pedro,” Hurdle said. “He's an important part of our offense. We need him to fire and drive in runs. Three-run homers always play well — a confidence boost for him.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates must weigh risk, reward in attempt to sign Martin
- Pirates acquire infielder from Indians, designate Axford, Gomez for assignment
- Pirates acquire Orioles reliever, designate Tabata for assignment
- Pirates to end spring in Philadelphia again, sign Stinson to minor league deal