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Pittsburgh Pirates - TeamReport

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MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - INSIDE PITCH

Few teams embrace statistical analysis more than the Pirates.

That is why it was a little surprising that third baseman Pedro Alvarez batted third in Sunday's 10-9 win in 10 innings over the Los Angeles Angels at Anaheim, subbing for center fielder Andrew McCutchen, who got a rare day off from starting, though he entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning.

Just a few days earlier, manager Clint Hurdle said the Pirates' numbers crunchers did three different studies and each of them concurred Alvarez is best suited hitting No. 6 in the lineup. However, there was one simpler statistic that guided Hurdle's decision-making process Sunday.

"He's 6-of-9 off (Joe) Blanton," Hurdle said. "End of story."

Alvarez continued to give Angels right-hander Joe Blanton fits by hitting a solo home run off him in the first inning and wound up going 2-for-5.

Hurdle, though, cautioned that the move up in the order was just a one-day move, even though Alvarez has driven in 13 runs in his last eight games to raise his season RBI total to 51, which ranks seventh in the National League.

"With McCutchen not in the lineup, him being hot, that's why he's third today," Hurdle said before the game. "To read anything more into it is missing the point."

The Pirates have felt Alvarez would eventually become their cleanup hitter since making him the second overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft.

Alvarez, though, has struggled mightily in 38 career appearances hitting fourth with a .135 batting average and just two home runs in 150 plate appearances. He hit in the No. 4 spot three times in the early days of this season and went 2-for-11 (.182) with no extra-base hits.

Yet the Pirates still have faith the 26-year-old Alvarez will eventually hold down the cleanup job.

"You always hear me say that feelings aren't facts, and the facts are telling me that has not been a comfortable spot for him," Hurdle said. "I do think a time is coming when, through Pedro's experience and maturity, it's not going to complicate things for him and he'll make a seamless transition into the four hole."

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MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - NOTES, QUOTES

RECORD: 46-30

STREAK: Won four

PAST 10 GAMES: 7-3

NEXT: Tuesday: Pirates (Jeff Locke, 6-1, 2.01) at Mariners (Joe Saunders, 5-7, 4.48)

PLAYER NOTES:

--CF Andrew McCutchen was not in the starting lineup Sunday against the Angels. It was just a day off for McCutchen, who was replaced in center field by Sterling Marte. McCutchen entered the game in the ninth inning and wound up 1-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored.

--3B Pedro Alvarez was in the No. 3 spot in the batting order for the first time in his career Sunday against the Angels. Alvarez homered in his first at-bat for the third game in a row and has homered in four consecutive games overall. He extended his hitting streak to eight games.

--LHP Wandy Rodriguez started for Triple-A Indianapolis Sunday as part of his rehab assignment. He went four innings, giving up one run, four hits and one walk while striking out five and making 73 pitches. Rodriguez last pitched for the Pirates on June 5, when he had to come out of the game in the first inning because of forearm tightness.

--C Russell Martin has a 3.06 catcher's ERA this season, best in the big leagues. He has thrown out 13 would-be basestealers, ranking third in the majors behind Nick Hundley (15) and A.J. Ellis (14).

--DH/C Tony Sanchez made his major league debut Sunday against the Angels in the designated hitter spot and doubled in his first at-bat. The ball stuck in the right-field wall, which has the electronic scoreboard, and was ruled a ground-rule double. After the inning, a stadium worker used a ladder to retrieve the ball, which was thrown into the Pirates dugout.

--LHP Jeff Locke will make his 16th start of the season Tuesday against the Mariners. Locke has not allowed a run in his last two starts, covering 14 innings. He hasn't lost since his first start of the season on April 7 vs. the Dodgers.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been a common theme all year. We go out there and battle all the way to the end. That's the beautiful thing about baseball -- time never runs out. You got to make 27 outs. We just fought. It was a collective effort from everyone in the lineup and people coming off the bench. Normally our theme is pitching well and playing good defense, and today our offense took advantage of their mistakes." -- C Russell Martin, who had a clutch, pinch-hit RBI double in the ninth and an RBI single in the 10th to beat the Angels 10-9 Sunday.

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MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - ROSTER REPORT

MEDICAL WATCH:

--RHP Gerrit Cole (bruised left thigh) was injured June 21 in his start against the Angels but stayed in the game. He is being given two extra days of rest before his next start June 28 against Milwaukee.

--LHP Wandy Rodriguez (left forearm tightness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6. He started playing catch June 13 and threw off a mound June 18. He made a rehab start June 23 for Triple-A Indianapolis and will be reevaluated.

--RHP A.J. Burnett (right calf strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 9. He is no longer wearing a walking boot. He began playing catch June 20.

--RHP Jeanmar Gomez (strained right forearm) went on the 15-day disabled list June 3. He made two rehab starts for Triple-A Indianapolis and is expected to be activated June 26 and start that day at Seattle.

--RHP Jared Hughes (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6. An MRI found no structural damage in the shoulder and he has not yet starting a throwing program.

--RHP James McDonald (right shoulder discomfort) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 1. He made two rehab starts for Double-A Altoona and four for Triple-A Indianapolis. He is not expected to pitch again before his rehab assignment expires June 26.

--RHP Jeff Karstens (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 27. Karstens underwent surgery June 7 to debride his shoulder, and he won't be able to begin a throwing program until mid-September, which makes a return this season almost out of the question.

--OF Jose Tabata (left oblique strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 25. He started hitting off a tee June 14 and began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on June 21. He is expected to be activated by the end of the month.

--RHP Phil Irwin (nerve inflammation near right elbow) was recalled from the minors and placed on the 60-day disabled list June 3. He has not yet started a throwing program.

ROTATION:

LHP Jeff Locke

LHP Francisco Liriano

RHP Charlie Morton

RHP Gerrit Cole

BULLPEN:

RHP Jason Grilli (closer)

RHP Mark Melancon

LHP Tony Watson

LHP Justin Wilson

RHP Vin Mazzaro

RHP Bryan Morris

RHP Ryan Reid

RHP Duke Welker

CATCHERS:

Russell Martin

Michael McKenry

Tony Sanchez

INFIELDERS:

1B Garrett Jones

2B Neil Walker

SS Clint Barmes

3B Pedro Alvarez

INF Brandon Inge

INF Gaby Sanchez

INF Jordy Mercer

OUTFIELDERS:

LF Starling Marte

CF Andrew McCutchen

RF Travis Snider

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