Melky Cabrera starts, homers to lead Pirates past Astros in final exhibition
Injuries have plagued the Pittsburgh Pirates in right field, where Gregory Polanco will miss the start of the season while recovering from shoulder surgery and Lonnie Chisenhall was out after being hit by a pitch Monday.
That left the Pirates to start 15-year veteran Melky Cabrera in their final exhibition game, and he delivered a home run in a 5-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.
Chisenhall was hit in the right hand and left Monday night’s game to be evaluated. After Colin Moran drew a two-out walk in the top of the fourth, Cabrera followed with a 434-foot blast to right field off J.B. Bukauskas for a 2-0 lead.
After Brandon Maurer and Tyler Lyons pitched an inning apiece, Eduardo Vera allowed one run on three hits over the next five innings to earn the win. Vera gave up a George Springer solo shot to center to lead off the fourth and cut the Astros’ deficit to 2-1.
The Pirates scored three runs in the ninth. J.B. Shuck, who played the final five innings in right, made his case for making the Opening Day roster by going 1 for 2 to hit .372 (16 for 43) with two home runs and six RBIs in 20 games this spring. Shuck hit an RBI single to score Ke’Bryan Hayes, and Kevin Newman followed with a home run to right field off Cy Sneed for a 5-1 lead.
Notes: The Pirates reassigned Maurer, Lyons, catcher Steven Baron, right-handed pitcher Rookie Davis and outfielder Patrick Kivlehan to their minor-league camp. … Jameson Taillon will start against right-hander Luis Castillo when the Pirates open the season at 4:10 p.m. on Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .