ROUGH START—James McDonald throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, March 18, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP)—James McDonald was not rattled by his rough start.
McDonald labored in the first inning, then recovered as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday.
“I got locked back in, kept my composure and finished strong,” McDonald said. “I didn’t let the game get away from me. I felt confident—every pitch, every moment out there.”
Ryan Lavarnway hit a two-run single in the first. McDonald then retired 11 of 14 batters. He gave up four hits and three walks in five innings and struck out six.
This was the second game in a row that McDonald overcame a rocky first inning.
“It’s definitely correctable,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s got some weapons. With James, it’s about rhythm, pace and timing. That improved as the game went on. We’ve got to keep him working and take the cerebral part out of it.”
McDonald has a 4.19 ERA in five games with 4 strikeouts in 19 1-3 innings.
Neil Walker homered to end Clay Buchholz’s 9 1-3 inning scoreless streak and Gaby Sanchez hit a two-run drive.
Walker’s leadoff homer in the second was the only hit off Buchholz, who struck out four and walked two in five innings.
Sanchez homered in the seventh against Chris Carpenter, and Michael McKenry hit a solo drive off Oscar Villarreal in the eighth.
NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz’s scheduled batting practice was canceled due to continued pain in both heels. “He’s not ready for that next phase,” Farrell said…The start of the game was delayed by 48 minutes, but it didn’t start raining until after the tarp was removed and play got under way…The Pirates reassigned RHPs Gerrit Cole, Brooks Brown, Kyle Waldrop, LHP Kris Johnson and C Ali Solis to their minor league camp. RHP Phil Irwin was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. Cole, the first overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft, is the team’s top prospect.…Closer Jason Grilli pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning in his first appearance for the Pirates since pitching for Italy in the World Baseball Classic.