Duffy, Marisnick help power Astros vs. Bucs

Duffy, Marisnick help power Astros vs. Bucs

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Two-run homers by Tyler White and Teoscar Hernandez off Kelvin Marte in the eighth inning powered a Houston Astros split squad to an 11-8 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday afternoon before 6,304 at McKechnie Field.

A two-run triple by Pedro Florimon off Edwar Cabrera had capped a five-run sixth inning that gave the Pirates an 8-6 lead, after two-run homers by Matt Duffy in the fourth inning and Jake Marisnick in the fifth had helped turn a 2-0 Astros deficit into a 6-2 lead.

Marisnick's two-run homer

Duffy's home run -- a towering drive to center off Arquimedes Caminero -- was his second of the spring and followed an RBI double by Preston Tucker, who had singled home Carlos Correa with Houston's first run.

Marisnick's blast, which landed on the protective netting above the Astros' bullpen in left, came off Jared Hughes after Tony Kemp had lined a double to right.

Pittsburgh built an early lead after John Jaso singled home Francisco Cervelli in the first inning, and Josh Harrison plated Jordy Mercer with a sacrifice fly in the second.

Duffy homered again in the ninth, lining a Guido Knudson fastball deep into the left-field bleachers to round out the Houston scoring.

Duffy's second home run

Pirates starting pitcher Juan Nicasio pitched two solid innings, allowing one hit -- an infield single by Correa -- while striking out two and walking none. The veteran right-hander, who was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen by the Dodgers last year, is being stretched out like a starting pitcher this spring for depth purposes.

"I thought I threw two good innings, I felt good. I tried to keep the ball down and pitch to contact," said Nicasio. "I threw all of my pitches today -- a couple of changeups but also a lot of sliders. That pitch was really good today."

Astros starter Brad Peacock was lifted with two out in the second inning, after surrendering two runs on three hits. He walked three batters and struck out one.

Marisnick turned in what proved to be the defensive gem of the day when he fired a first-inning strike to the plate to nail a tagging Josh Harrison, who was attempting to score on an Andrew McCutchen fly to shallow center.

Up next for Astros: Mike Fiers gets the nod on Monday when the Astros travel to Tampa for a 12:05 p.m. CT matchup with the Yankees. The veteran right-hander went 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA for Houston in 10 appearances (nine starts) last year after being acquired in a Trade Deadline deal with the Brewers. The Yanks will counter with righty Michael Pineda.

Listen to the action live on Gameday Audio.

Up next for Pirates: Jeff Locke will take the ball on Monday when the Pirates travel to Clearwater to face the Phillies in 1:05 p.m. ET matchup. The veteran left-hander, who is sporting a new, more traditional delivery this spring, went 8-11 with a 4.49 ERA in 30 starts for the Bucs last year. The Phils will counter with righty Vincent Velasquez.  

Watch the action live on MLB.TV.

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.