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Alvarez, McCutchen, Volquez key Pirates' 8-1 rout

Brian Blanco

Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer and Andrew McCutchen went 3-for-5 as the Pirates blew out the Rays Monday, 8-1.

Edinson Volquez pitched eight solid innings, throwing 110 pitches and striking out two while giving the Pirates' bullpen a breather. Jeanmar Gomez pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Pirates got two runs in the first. Alex Cobb hit Starling Marte, who moved up on a stolen base and a single by McCutchen. McCutchen then stole second himself. Marte came home when Ike Davis dribbled a grounder to second, and McCutchen scored when Russell Martin hit a single that Cobb struggled to field.

Marte led off the top of the third with a double, then came home on McCutchen's single. Josh Harrison walked three batters later, and then McCutchen and Harrison came home when Alvarez blasted off with a 400-plus-foot smash to center.

The Pirates had a comfortable lead by that point, but they added to it in the late innings. Travis Snider hit an RBI single in the eighth, and Gregory Polanco singled and came home on McCutchen's single in the ninth.

A couple of notes here:

-P- I hadn't watched a game at Tropicana Field in awhile. Man, is the surface there ugly.

-P- Volquez's strong start was just another for a Pirates pitcher. It will be great to get Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano back, but the Pirates really haven't missed them much. On TribLive radio this afternoon, I was saying that, once Cole returns on Saturday, merit would dictate that Volquez would be the odd man out. The Pirates aren't going to cut Volquez, of course, since he was pitching passably even before tonight and he isn't optionable. But it's nice to see him join in this parade of fine pitching performances by Brandon Cumpton, Jeff Locke and Vance Worley. Coming into tonight's game, Cumpton and Locke ranked first in second among Pirates starting pitchers in fWAR.