Phillies 2, Pirates 1

If one of the Philadelphia Phillies’ starters goes down, Aaron

Cook and Rodrigo Lopez are ready to fill in.

Cook and Lopez combined for five scoreless innings, Pete Orr hit

a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning and the Phillies beat the

Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 on Thursday.

”I’ll take the ball whenever they give it to me,” Cook said

after allowing one hit in three innings. ”I would love to start.

At this point in the big leagues, I’ll take the ball


Cook, who has made one relief appearance since 2003, could make

the roster as a long man in the bullpen. He’ll likely start the

season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley as insurance. Lopez is another

veteran starter the Phillies could turn to if they have a need for

a sixth or seventh guy.

”I think we are better armed starting-pitching wise and depth

wise than last year,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. ”That

was a shortage last year. If we have breakdowns, we have guys to

come in and keep us going.”

Cook, a former All-Star in 2008 with Colorado, was 4-11 with a

5.65 ERA in 18 starts for Boston last year. The righty was 3-10

with a 6.03 ERA in 2011. He’s 13-29 with a 5.54 ERA over the past

three years.

”The last three years were a roller coaster for me,” Cook

said. ”I had a lot of bizarre injuries. I still have passion for

the game and I want to pitch.”

Known for his sinker, Cook got five outs on grounders.

”Cook showed that great sinker, the ability to change speeds

and to keep guys off-balance,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said.

Lopez worked around three hits in two innings, lower his spring

ERA to 2.45.

”He doesn’t give in and he knows how to pitch,” Lopez


Orr, a veteran utilityman, connected off former Phillies

left-hander Mike Zagurski, hitting a long drive to right.

Pirates starter Kyle McPherson threw five scoreless innings,

allowing four hits. McPherson, who is competing for the fifth spot

in Pittsburgh’s rotation, helped his chances after two rough


”I’m going to continue to work and focus on ball down,”

McPherson said. ”I had tremendous success with that today.”

Phillies center fielder Ender Inciarte, a Rule 5 pickup from

Arizona, made a perfect one-hop throw to the plate to retire Brad

Hawpe trying to score on Clint Barmes’ single in the second.

NOTES: The Phillies announced that Cole Hamels will be their

opening day starter. It will be his first opening day start. …

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick allowed two unearned runs in five

innings in a minor-league game. He allowed four hits, walked one

and struck out three. … Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon struck

out two in a perfect sixth. … Philadelphia optioned infielder

Cesar Hernandez to minor league camp and re-assigned right-hander

Justin Friend to minor league camp. … Zagurski had struck out

eight of the last nine batters he faced before Orr took him deep.

… LHP Jonathan Sanchez will start for the Pirates at Houston on

Friday. … LHP John Lannan starts for the Phillies at Tampa Bay on