Liriano turns in nearly flawless start vs. Rays

Liriano turns in nearly flawless start vs. Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Gustavo Nunez's RBI single in the top of the eighth broke a tie game to lead the Pirates to a 4-3 win over the Rays on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park.

Keon Broxton singled with one out and scored on Nunez's single after the Rays scored twice in the seventh to tie the game.

The Rays, who are now 1-5-1, have struggled offensively. Manager Kevin Cash said that is subject to change.

"I thought we had some good swings today by a lot of guys," Cash said. "These guys can hit. They'll be ready to go."

Burch Smith made his second start for the Rays and retired the Pirates in order in the first before getting bit with some bad luck in the second. Andrew Lambo's one-out grounder to first hit the base and bounced away from James Loney, turning into a double. Lambo advanced to third on a wild pitch and then scored when former Ray Sean Rodriguez grounded out to second.

Everett Teaford replaced Smith and was equally as unlucky. Jung Ho Kang reached on a throwing error by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and scored when Lambo doubled to left. After Lambo moved to third on a wild pitch, Rodriguez singled through the middle to give the Pirates a 3-0 lead.

Francisco Liriano looked sharp in his second start of the spring for the Pirates. The veteran left-hander allowed one hit while striking out four in three innings.

Liriano, who could be the Pirates' Opening Day starter, threw 30 pitches, of which 21 were strikes.

Pirates starters have allowed just one run in 15 innings this spring.

Up next: Charlie Morton is expected to start when the Pirates take on the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest in Clearwater on Wednesday, and fans can listen to a free, exclusive webcast on Cole Hamels is expected to start for the Phillies. Also slated to see action for the Bucs are Jeff Locke, John Holdzkom, Stolmy Pimentel and Brad Lincoln.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.