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Burres keeps himself in running with scoreless start

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Brian Burres continues to make a solid case for a spot in the starting rotation after Tuesday's start against the Minnesota Twins.

Burres used an effective sinker to help retire the six batters he faced yesterday in two innings of work, inducing four groundouts and two flyouts. It was his first start of the spring following two relief appearances, and he has pitched six scoreless innings thus far.

"Just trying to keep the ball down as much as possible and get ahead with hitters, and when you get down, get back to even," Burres said of the key to his success. "But just try to stay ahead of the hitters as much as possible."

The 29-year-old left-hander is a dark horse for the fifth rotation spot against front-runners Scott Olsen and Charlie Morton. But with a 1-0 record and just three hits allowed and four strikeouts to go along with zero runs, Burres is, so far, doing everything the Pirates have asked to earn a spot somewhere on the staff.

"He's sinking the ball very well, he's working the bottom of the zone and he's been very aggressive with all his pitches," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's staying in the competition. He's a flexible guy, a versatile guy, but we still want to take looks at him and stretch him out a little bit."

Burres was 4-5 with a 4.99 ERA in 20 games — including 13 starts — with the Pirates in 2010 and was 5-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 15 games (14 starts) with Triple-A Indianapolis.

"Honestly, whatever role they need me to be, I'm perfectly happy doing it," Burres said. "I prefer pitching in the big leagues."

The Pirates (6-6) snapped a two-game losing streak in yesterday's 5-2 win over the Twins (6-4).

Bucs first baseman Lyle Overbay hit his second home run, a solo shot on a 2-0 count off of Pat Neshek in the seventh inning, to tie the score, 2-2. Ryan Doumit hit a sacrifice fly to score Neil Walker in the fifth inning.

With the bases loaded in the ninth, shortstop Pedro Ciriaco hit a sacrifice fly to break the tie, and Andrew Lambo singled in two more runs before it was over.

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