Pirates 6, Rays 4

Alex Cobb figured out what was wrong in the fourth inning.

Things went more smoothly afterward.

Cobb labored early but settled to work into the seventh inning

of a Tampa Bay Rays split squad’s 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh

Pirates on Friday.

The Pirates put runners on base in each of the first four

innings against Cobb. In the fourth, the Pirates took a 3-1 lead on

John McDonald’s RBI single and Garrett Jones’ sacrifice fly.

”I made it a lot easier on myself after that,” Cobb said. ”I

wasn’t getting a good angle on all my pitches. Everything was flat

and up. I made an adjustment in my lower half to get the ball down

in the zone and get some depth to my pitches.”

Cobb gave up three runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings, walking

three and striking out five.

”It was the most comparable (thing) to a real game that I’ve

felt this spring,” said Cobb, who’s slated for the No. 4 spot in

the Rays’ rotation. ”I went through my challenges with runners on,

working through jams, working through my mechanics, figuring things

out. It’s a different mentality when you go deeper in the


Minor leaguer Stefan Welch hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the

eighth inning. Welch, a third baseman who played last season at

Double-A, hit a towering shot to right field off Dane De La Rosa.

It was Welch’s first at-bat in a Grapefruit League game.

In the sixth, the Rays scored three runs to take a 4-3 lead. Ben

Zobrist led off with a homer to left field against reliever Mike

Zagurski. Matt Joyce singled and Luke Scott doubled to tie it at 3.

Scott scored on Shelly Duncan’s double.

Pirates starter Jeanmar Gomez worked four innings and allowed

one run on three hits. The right-hander walked one and struck out


”My release was very good,” Gomez said. ”Early in the game, I

didn’t feel as good as I felt in the bullpen. But it got better

later in the game.”

Gomez is on the fringes of the competition for the No. 5 starter

spot, but more likely has a shot at a bullpen job. The

right-hander, whom the Pirates acquired via a trade in January, is

out of minor league options.

”He held serve today,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

”There were some sequences when his fastball command was good and

he dotted it up well, but then he’d get behind in some counts. The

breaking ball was effective. He didn’t give up much. He kept

battling. It was a work day for him, but he made some


NOTES: Pirates INF Brandon Inge was scratched from the lineup.

The team said Inge has ”lingering discomfort” in his right

shoulder blade after being hit by a pitch during a game on March

14. X-rays were negative. … The Pirates reassigned INFs Ivan De

Jesus and Jared Goedert to minor league camp and optioned RHP Bryan

Morris to Triple-A Indianapolis. That leaves 37 players in camp.

… McDonald reported to camp and started the game Friday at

shortstop. The Pirates acquired McDonald on Wednesday in a trade

with the Arizona Diamondbacks. … Rays OF Sam Fuld (hamstring) was

slated to play three innings plus take some extra at-bats Friday in

a minor league game. Manager Joe Maddon said Fuld likely will be

back in the lineup Monday.