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Sean Poppen struggles, Bucs comeback falls short in 10-9 defeat to Orioles

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Not quite for the Pirates tonight.

MLB: MAR 23 Spring Training - Twins at Pirates Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ve been talking lately about Pittsburgh Pirates pitching playing pretty well this past week, and I mentioned in the game thread about this being a chance for Sean Poppen to show his stuff, and both of those things came to a screeching halt tonight in Sarasota, Florida.

Poppen had a rotten outing, being tagged for five runs on three hits and two walks in just one and two-thirds innings, while his relief wasn’t any better, and the Buccos fell to the Baltimore Orioles 10-9 despite a gallant effort by the Pittsburgh bats that almost brought them back from the dead twice.

Poppen was replaced by Richard Rodriguez and then Michael Feliz, and those two combined to give up another four runs on five hits in two and one-third. Both pitchers gave up two-on, two-out dingers, Rodriguez in the second and Feliz in the fourth, as the Pirates gave up nine runs in the first four innings.

The Buccos hung tough early though, as they were the ones who actually bounced out to a quick 3-0 lead, scoring runs off a Philip Evans single that brought home Anthony Alford and a double from Wilmer Difo that scored Evans in the first. Tony Wolters then scored in the second off of a Liover Peguero double, and it looked like the Bucs were off and running before the bottom fell out on Poppen in the bottom of the second, which was later capped off by a Ryan Mountcastle three-run homer off of Rodriguez, with two of the runs credited to Poppen.

Evans scored again along with Todd Frazier off of a Wolters single in the third, and Piguero knocked in another, scoring Brian Goodwin, and suddenly we had a game again. But the Orioles put an end to that with Austin Hays’ three-run shot off of Feliz and a 9-6 lead.

Both teams exchanged a run apiece before the Pirates made a run at it in the top of the eighth, with Oneil Cruz scoring off of a bases-loaded, no-out GIDP by Erik Gonzalez, follwed by Jared Oliva scoring off of an Evans single, but the Bucs would get no closer, with Paul Fry pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save.

Evans finished 4-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs to lead the charge offensively, and the Bucs also got multi-hit games from Anthony Alford (2-for-3), Frazier (2-for-3), Goodwin (2-for-5), Wolters (2-for-5) and Peguero (2-for-3).

The loss breaks up the Pirates’ four-game spring winning streak and drops their record in the Grapefuit League to 12-11. Feliz took the loss for the Bucs. They return to action tomorrow at LECOM Park in Bradenton, where they’ll take on the Detroit Tigers in a 1:05pm start.