The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

March 15, 2013

Sanchez helps Pirates power past Astros

KISSIMMEE, Fla. — Jonathan Sanchez pitched three strong innings and Garrett Jones and Ivan DeJesus Jr. each had two hits in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 3-2 exhibition victory over the Houston Astros on Friday.

Sanchez, the left-hander trying to earn a spot in the Pirates’ rotation, gave up a leadoff single to Jose Altuve in the first inning, then retired nine in a row. 

The 30-year-old Sanchez is pitching on a minor league contract less than 21⁄2 years after starting a World Series game for San Francisco. By March 24, he can opt out of his contact and try to hook on with another team.

“I’ve been in the big leagues for seven years, and I’d rather be in a rotation,” Sanchez said. “I’ll have to make the decision that day. I don’t know what to say right now. I’m just thinking about my next start and trying to do the same things I did today.”

It was the second start of the spring for Sanchez, 1-9 in 15 starts last season for Kansas City and Colorado.

“I felt great out there. I felt like old times,” he said. “It’s spring training. We have to make adjustments, but I’m getting there. When we got here I started trying new mechanics. It didn’t work out. I went back to my old mechanics, and I feel a lot better now. It doesn’t matter how you throw the ball. You just have to throw strikes.”

Sanchez will get only one more start before he has to make his decision.

“I see a lot of good arms here, a lot of hard throwers. It’s their decisions, whatever they want to do. I guess they’re going to talk to me first (about) whatever they want to do.”

Tyler Greene’s single in the fifth off Jeanmar Gomez was Houston’s only other hit until Jose Martinez drove in two runs with a two-out single in the ninth.

Houston starter Brad Peacock gave up one run on four hits in five innings.

Peacock, a 25-year-old right-hander who came to the Astros from Oakland in a February trade, will need a break or a breakdown to open the season in the Astros’ rotation, but his chances look better than they did a week ago.

“I’m glad to get my pitch count up and get ready for the season, and I’m glad they let me go back out in the fifth,” he said. “I feel like I actually got stronger as the game went on. I got loosened up, finally found my curveball in the fourth and fifth.”

Hits by Pedro Alvarez, Jones and DeJesus gave the Pirates a run in the second inning and tagged Peacock with the loss. But he gave up only four hits and struck out four.

“Peacock was outstanding,” manager Bo Porter said. “Five strong innings, 84 pitches, used his breaking balls effectively and pounded the strike zone. He looked like he wasn’t losing steam, so we allowed him to finish it.”

Tyler Greene’s single in the fifth off Jeanmar Gomez was Houston’s only other hit until Jose Martinez drove in the Astros’ runs with a two-out single in the ninth.

Three straight hits off Chia-Jen Lo, including an RBI double by Travis Snider, and a sacrifice fly by Jordy Mercer led to two Pittsburgh runs in the seventh.

Notes: Shortstop Carlos Correa, the Astros’ first overall draft pick last June, will play in his first major league exhibition game today at Vierra against Washington. ... Lucas Harrell will start against the Nationals after missing a turn with a strained groin. ... Erik Bedard, who pitched one inning Wednesday in his recovery from a strained glute muscle, will pitch in relief Sunday.

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