BRADENTON, Fla. — Gaby Sanchez hit his team-leading fourth Grapefruit League home run as the Pirates rallied for a 4-3 win over the Red Sox at McKechnie Field on Monday afternoon.
Trailing, 2-1, in the seventh, Pittsburgh got a leadoff walk from Josh Harrison and then Sanchez crushed a Chris Carpenter offering over the left-field fence.
For his second straight start, James McDonald endured a shaky first inning and then settled into dominance. On Wednesday, he allowed three runs in the first to Toronto and then retired 14 of the last 17 batters he faced. In Monday’s game, he gave up two runs on three first-inning hits and then held the Red Sox to one other hit over his final 4 1/3 frames.
The right-hander also notched six strikeouts and issued three free passes.
One day after Jon Lester hurled six perfect innings, Boston starter Clay Buchholz pitched one-hit ball for five innings on Monday. Buchholz gave up his first run of the spring, but he was extremely sharp for a fourth consecutive start, limiting the Pirates to a second-inning homer by Neil Walker. In 13 1/3 innings, the righty has allowed seven hits and a run.
For Walker, who was hampered by injuries the last six weeks of the 2012 season, the homer was his first since Aug. 12.
Ryan Lavarnway’s two-run single off McDonald in the first gave Boston a quick 2-0 lead.
Jason Grilli, the Pirates’ new closer who had been away participating in the World Baseball Classic with Italy, made his first Grapefruit League appearance since March 3. Grilli came on in the sixth and retired the side in order.
Michael McKenry tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when he hit a leadoff homer off Oscar Villarreal.
Up next: The Pirates have their second and final break in the Grapefruit League schedule on Tuesday and then resume play with a Wednesday visit to the Wonderful World of Disney for a 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Braves. The game will air live on MLB.TV. Kyle McPherson is due to make his fifth start off the Bucs’ best outing of the spring, his five innings of four-hit shutout pitching on Thursday against the Phillies. Andrew McCutchen is expected back in the lineup to work on his .172 preseason average.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The Editor & Chief, the brains so to say, behind Pittsburgh Blitz. Jim is a rabid sports fan who just loves his Stillers, Pens and Buccos. Feel free to contact us at info[@]pittsburgh-blitz.com if you have any questions or comments or would like to join our staff and write for Pittsburgh Blitz.