Tillman fans eight Pirates in final tuneup for Opening Day
By Brittany Ghiroli and Tom Singer
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Everth Cabrera tripled in a run in the seventh and scored on next batter Alejandro De Aza's pinch-hit single to give the Orioles their first lead before the Pirates rallied in the eighth to force a 3-3 tie in a 10-inning Grapefruit League contest Wednesday night.
Pittsburgh Opening Day starter Francisco Liriano and Baltimore counterpart Chris Tillman faced off, both looking sharp. Tillman allowed three hits in five innings, one of them Pedro Alvarez's two-run homer in the second. Liriano surrendered a solo homer by Cabrera in the third, the lefty's final inning of work before yielding to Gerrit Cole, who tossed three shutout innings.
Alvarez's home run was his team-leading fifth of the spring, and he also took over the Grapefruit League lead with 17 RBIs.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Pedro with the play: OK, Pirates fans, you can stop worrying about how Alvarez and first base will get along. In his transitioning to the other corner of the infield, Alvarez has had few spring challenges but has passed every one flawlessly. On Wednesday, he saved a run in the first inning by snaring Chris Davis' ripped grounder into the hole with a full-body dive and then rising to make a perfect flip to Liriano covering first. Minutes later, Alvarez clocked his fifth homer to register his 16th and 17th spring RBIs.
Tillman tops off impressive spring: Tillman, the O's Opening Day starter, finished his spring campaign with a solid five innings, striking out eight and retiring 11 of the final 12 men he faced after Alvarez's homer.
"It feels good," said Tillman after the 85-pitch outing. "I think we're all ready to get this thing going. I feel like Spring Training lasts forever. It gets longer and longer every year. I think we've got a few things we need to get better at. I feel good about where we're at."
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• Last season, Pirates second baseman Neil Walker got his eighth double on June 2, in his 57th game. Walker has eight doubles in 17 Grapefruit League games.
WHAT'S NEXT Pirates: The Bucs will say farewell to Florida with a 1:05 p.m. ET game in Tampa against the Yankees, live on MLB.TV. A.J. Burnett is due to start against his long-ago Yankees teammates in what would be his first appearance at George M. Steinbrenner Field since March 7, 2011.
Orioles: Baltimore will travel to Lake Buena Vista for the first time this season as lefty Wei-Yin Chen will make his final Grapefruit League start. The Braves will counter with lefty Alex Wood in the 6:05 p.m. ET game, which can be heard on Gameday Audio.