The Pittsburgh Pirates’ bats were largely quiet in a loss on Thursday – despite tallying eight hits – as the Boston Red Sox proved to be too much, taking down Clint Hurdle’s club by a 5-1 final.
Pittsburgh right-hander A.J. Burnett struggled, allowing a pair of runs in 2 1/3 innings of work – which came without the benefit of a base hit. The veteran issued three walks and struck out two.
Both tallies against Burnett came in the top of the third – when reliever Ryan Beckham came on in relief of the Pirates’ righty. Boston designated hitter David Ortiz clubbed a two-run shot, his first home run of the spring – catapulting the Red Sox into the lead after trailing early.
One of the newest members of Red Sox Nation, third baseman Pablo Sandoval, contributed during the frame, also hitting his first home run of Grapefruit League play – pushing the Boston lead to 4-1 in the third.
Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen drove in that aforementioned first run in the bottom of the first against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz – part of a one-hit afternoon for the Pittsburgh standout.
As for Buchholz, who is seeking to eliminate years of an injury-prone label as the bona fide Red Sox ace in 2015, the right-hander allowed just the one unearned run in three innings of work. He scattered four hits and issued one walk on the afternoon.
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Boston added one more run in the fourth, courtesy of a Shane Victorino double that plated Jackie Bradley Jr. Pirates’ closer Mark Melancon was on the hill – and the right-hander allowed one tally on two hits in his outing.
What Stood Out:
Both Burnett and Melancon struggled in their time on the mound Thursday, combining to allow three runs in 3 1/3 innings of work. Control issues plagued the former, as the soon-to-be-retired veteran dealt a trio of free passes on the afternoon.
Granted, it’s early, and Burnett’s 4.15 ERA so far this spring is still nothing to be too concerned about. With more time and more action on the hill, both should fine-tune their approaches and be more solid once the regular season breaks.
The Pirates will take on the Minnesota Twins on Friday in Grapefruit League action. Casey Sadler will take the hill for Pittsburgh – and will be opposed by right-hander Ervin Santana.