Pirates (ss) 15, Reds (ss) 5

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BRADENTON, Fla. (AP)—On a day the Pittsburgh Pirates’ B-team starters sent 16 batters to the plate in a 10-run first inning against a Cincinnati Reds split squad, manager Jim Tracy was as eager to talk about his starting pitcher as he was his hitters.

Craig Wilson and Jose Castillo had two-run doubles in the overwhelming first inning against Reds left-hander Michael Gosling, and Humberto Cota drove in four runs in a 15-5 Pirates split-squad victory Saturday achieved mostly with second-line players.

With most of their regulars opposing the Phillies—including Jason Bay, Sean Casey, Joe Randa and Jeromy Burnitz—the Pirates had four extra-base hits and a 5-0 lead before Gosling got his only out, on Cota’s sacrifice fly.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Tracy said. “It’s what we’ve been talking about all spring—we went up there looking for something good to take a swing at.”

Gosling is competing for a possible opening in the Reds’ rotation. But the former Diamondbacks second-round draft pick might have pitched himself out of contention with one of the ugliest pitching lines by any major leaguer this spring: one-third of an inning, seven hits, nine runs, eight earned runs, one walk, no strikeouts. In a span of 10 batters, his ERA jumped from 5.68 to 16.20.

Left-hander Paul Maholm was much better, becoming the first Pirates starter to last five innings this spring by allowing two hits and a run and walking one in five innings. The only run against him came on Rich Aurilia’s home run in the fourth, the only homer by either team.

Tracy said Maholm could have gone an extra inning, but the manager wanted to get some of his relievers into the game.

“He got 13 groundball outs, and that’s good for a nine-inning game,” Tracy said. “That’s an indication of how well he pitched. That’s a very positive sign … it’s March 18th, and you want to see your pitchers starting to sharpen.”

There was nothing wrong with the Pirates’ offense as each of the Reds’ first four pitchers—they used seven—allowed at least one run. Their most effective pitcher was former first-round draft pick Homer Bailey, who gave up an unearned run but struck out five of the 11 batters he faced in 2 2-3 innings.

Right-hander Giovanni Carrara gave up a run and two hits in his first spring appearance with the Pirates after pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Carrara pitched for Tracy with the Dodgers last season.

Castillo went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and is 4-for-5 with three runs scored in his last two games. He is hitting .481 this spring.

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