Pirates 9, Astros 7(10)

In four seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Jed Lowrie never got

more than 309 at-bats in a year. He has a good chance to double

that in his first season with the Houston Astros, who acquired the

27-year-old shortstop in December.

”All you can ask for as a player is an opportunity to play,”

Lowrie said Sunday after hitting his second spring training home

run as an Astros’ split squad lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-7 in

10 innings. ”I’ve always prepared to be an everyday shortstop, and

hopefully I’ll get that opportunity and make the most of it.”

He is hitting .333 after 12 games, mostly from the No. 2 spot in

the Houston batting order.

Astros manager Brad Mills said he likes a left-handed hitter in

that second spot.

”Wherever Millsy thinks makes us the best team, that’s where

I’ll hit,” Lowrie said. ”It’s not going to change my approach,

but I’m comfortable in the two hole. I think in Boston I hit

everywhere but third.”

But he didn’t hit every day, and everything indicates he will do

that in Houston.

”It’s one of these Catch-22s,” he said. ”You have to be

swinging the bat well to get those at-bats, but you want to get

those at bats to swing well. That’s why you have to work hard in

the offseason and come into spring ready for when you get those at

bats.”

He drove a Brad Lincoln pitch over the right-field wall in the

first inning, then hit a ball almost as hard in his second at-bat.

That one was caught.

”I’ve gotten into a good routine and changed a couple

mechanical things, and it’s seemed to really help,” Lowrie

said.

Chris Snyder’s third home run gave the Astros a 3-0 early lead,

but the Pirates came back with a 20-hit offense. Nine of the hits

came off starter J.A. Happ, who gave up three runs in five

innings.

Yamaico Navarro had four hits and Nate McLouth had three for the

Pirates, who won it in the 10th inning on singles by Matt Hague,

Kelson Brown, Daniel Grovatt and Jarek Cunningham off Enerio Del

Rosario.

Prospect Jarred Cosart, appearing in his first exhibition game

for the Astros, worked 3 1-3 innings, striking out the first three

hitters he faced but giving up four runs.

NOTES: Navarro, Hague and Josh Harrison are making strong bids

for backup roster spots with the Pirates. ”In fairness to all

three, we’re going to let `em keep playing and keep evaluating,”

manager Clint Hurdle said. … GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates

will be patient with RHP A.J. Burnett, who threw for the first time

Saturday after surgery on his right orbital bone. ”The reality is

he’s a starting pitcher and he’s got to go from zero pitches to 100

pitches to be ready help us win at the major league level, and that

takes time. You can’t short-circuit that process or you risk

further injury and that’s the last thing we want to do,”

Huntington said. … Astros CF Jordan Schafer, who has missed a

week of games with a left hand injury, is to make the trip to Viera

for Monday’s game against Washington. … The Astros did not use a

DH Sunday because Mills wanted Happ to get a couple of at-bats.