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Volquez finishes strong as Pirates fall short

Right-hander lowers spring ERA in start against split Tampa Bay squad

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Jake Odorizzi pitched two-hit ball for 3 2/3 innings Saturday, setting up the Rays' 6-3 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field.

Pittsburgh starter Edinson Volquez went 3 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and four runs, two of them earned.

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Cesar Ramos went 5 1/3 innings for the save.

Ben Zobrist's infield grounder in the first drove in the first run -- and was the Rays' only RBI as they built a 4-1 lead. Three other runs scored on a wild pitch and errors by Pittsburgh outfielders Chris Dickerson and Travis Snider.

Furthermore, two of the Pirates' tallies came in on a wild pitch and an infield grounder, meaning only one of the game's first seven runs scored on a base hit.

One of the hits off Odorizzi was Robert Andino's RBI double in the second. Odorizzi walked three and struck out two in lowering his spring ERA to 2.25 for eight innings.

The Rays were managed by bench coach Dave Martinez as Joe Maddon skippered another squad against the Blue Jays in Port Charlotte, Fla.; they were the Rays' only split-squad games of the spring.

Signed as a free agent for $5 million, Volquez lowered his ERA from 14.29 to 11.00 and ended his outing in encouraging fashion by retiring the last four men he faced.

"The number doesn't look good," Volquez said with a smile, alluding to the overall ERA. "But they love what I've been doing. I've been working on my fastball command and I threw a lot of first-pitch strikes today, so I'm very happy right now."

Up next: Left-hander Adam Wilk, who has been solid in relief chances (one run in seven innings), gets a shot at starting when the Pirates travel to Clearwater, Fla., to meet the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET game (live on MLB.TV). Wilk has a history as a starter -- he has started all of his 83 Minor League games -- and becomes the 10th Buccos pitcher to start this spring.

Tom Singer is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Robert Andino, Edinson Volquez