By FRED GOODALL
AP Baseball Writer
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer to back the pitching of Edinson Volquez and lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.
Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 5, drove in two runs and stole two bases for the Pirates in a homecoming of sorts for the 2013 NL MVP, who grew up in nearby Fort Meade and had never played before at Tropicana Field. He also scored twice in Pittsburgh’s first appearance in St. Petersburg since 2003.
Alvarez went deep off Alex Cobb (2-6) during a four-run fourth inning that also featured the first of McCutchen’s two RBI singles.
Volquez (5-6) allowed five hits in a season-high eight innings.
James Loney drove in Tampa Bay’s only run with a two-out, first-inning single, and the Pirates helped their starting pitcher by turning three double plays.
McCutchen, who is batting .366 in June, boosted his average in 11 interleague games to .425 with nine walks, four doubles and seven RBIs. His run-scoring single off Cobb moved him ahead of Brian Giles for the Pirates career record for RBIs in interleague action with 52. He added another in the ninth off Kirby Yates.
Alvarez, meanwhile, is hitting .317 with two home runs and eight RBIs against AL teams this season. His 12th homer of the year, a first-pitch drive over the wall in center field, gave him his first RBIs in two weeks.
Cobb, making his seventh start since spending five weeks on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, allowed six runs and six hits in five innings.
Volquez won for the third time in his last five starts. The right-hander walked two, struck out one and didn’t allow a hit after the fourth inning.
Three of Tampa Bay’s six hits were infield singles, including Kevin Kiermaier’s second-inning bunt. Jeanmar Gomez pitched the ninth for the Pirates, yielding a two-out single to Loney.
NOTES: Pirates OF Starling Marte was back in the lineup after missing two games tending to a personal matter at home in the Dominican Republic. … Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole (right shoulder fatigue) threw 83 pitches over six innings in a simulated game and could rejoin the rotation this weekend. … Pirates 2B Neil Walker (appendectomy) is expected to be reinstated from the DL Tuesday. … The Rays haven’t announced if RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) will need one more minor league start before returning. .. Tampa Bay 1B-OF Jerry Sands has a wrist injury, which Rays manager Joe Maddon said could require surgery.
Updated June 23, 2014
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