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Trio of regulars leads Bucs' offensive breakout

Special to MLB.com

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Pirates broke a string of four games with fewer than four runs scored with their 11-1 trouncing of the Tigers on Thursday in Lakeland, with Major Leaguers from last season's squad bunching homers in the team's seventh Grapefruit League game.

Francisco Cervelli opened the scoring with a leadoff homer on the first pitch of the second inning by Detroit ace Justin Verlander, belting it into the seats well beyond the left-field wall at Publix Field. Jordy Mercer widened the Bucs' early lead with a grand slam off Chad Bell in the third on a 1-2 count, barely clearing the same left-field fence. Five batters later -- also on a 1-2 offering from Bell -- Adam Frazier put the game out of reach with a towering drive into the Tigers' bullpen that also scored Barrett Barnes, capping a seven-run frame.

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LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Pirates broke a string of four games with fewer than four runs scored with their 11-1 trouncing of the Tigers on Thursday in Lakeland, with Major Leaguers from last season's squad bunching homers in the team's seventh Grapefruit League game.

Francisco Cervelli opened the scoring with a leadoff homer on the first pitch of the second inning by Detroit ace Justin Verlander, belting it into the seats well beyond the left-field wall at Publix Field. Jordy Mercer widened the Bucs' early lead with a grand slam off Chad Bell in the third on a 1-2 count, barely clearing the same left-field fence. Five batters later -- also on a 1-2 offering from Bell -- Adam Frazier put the game out of reach with a towering drive into the Tigers' bullpen that also scored Barrett Barnes, capping a seven-run frame.

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"They just made the park look tiny today," Pittsburgh starter Steven Brault said. "It's ridiculous. ... Our team can hit -- it's just that simple."

Video: PIT@DET: Mercer breaks it open with grand slam

In terms of power, though, the Pirates' holdovers had not contributed any homers until John Jaso homered in Wednesday's 3-1 victory at the Twins. Andrew McCutchen's two doubles and Starling Marte's one double represent the returning group's only other extra-base hits.

Through Wednesday's games, Pittsburgh ranked seventh in the Grapefruit League and 11th in the Majors with a .448 slugging percentage.

Still, in the small sample size, only McCutchen (.273), Josh Harrison (.167) and David Freese (.143) have batting averages below .333 among last year's regulars.

Video: PIT@DET: Osuna hits solo shot to center

Hurdle yet to review rule changes

Manager Clint Hurdle said he had not had a chance to review the rule changes released Thursday morning by the MLB and MLBPA in a joint statement.

Several of the rule changes regard manager challenges, such as a 30-second time limit in which managers can decide to challenge a play, limiting review of challenges to two minutes and pushing back the ability of umpires to initiate a review for a manager who has already lost his challenge, from the seventh inning to the eighth.

Most significant is the confirmation of automatic intentional walks: The manager will inform the umpire of the desire to walk the batter, who will immediately be granted first base.

Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com.

Pittsburgh Pirates