03/28/12 9:48 PM ET
McCutchen homers as Bucs fall to Rays
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
David Price made his final "long" start of the spring -- he will make one final "short" start on Monday against the Twins before the regular season starts. Price will begin the season in the second slot of the Rays' rotation, meaning he will get the start on April 7 against the Yankees at Tropicana Field.
Charlie Morton started for the Pirates. The right-hander, who is earmarked to be the Pirates' fifth starter, allowed a leadoff double to Elliot Johnson to start the third. Johnson moved to third on a groundout, and scored when Carlos Pena grounded out to first, to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Rays got busy again in the fourth. Evan Longoria led off the inning with a double down the left-field line, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored on Luke Scott's single up the middle. Johnson added a two-run double to give the Rays a 4-0 cushion.
Rod Barajas doubled off of Price with one out in the fifth, and Matt Hague drove him home with a single to left to cut the lead to 4-1.
Scott answered for the Rays with his second home run of the spring, a two-run blast off of Morton to push the Rays' lead to 6-1.
Price surrendered a solo home run to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth, but that was all the Pirates would get off the Rays' left-hander, who allowed two runs on six hits, walking two and striking out five in seven innings worked.
"I felt good," Price said. "My legs were a little tired today, but everything else felt really good. I feel like I keep getting better and I feel like I'm where I need to be right now."
The Bucs would add a third run in the eighth off of J.P. Howell, when Neil Walker doubled home Jesus Feliciano.
Morton allowed six runs on eight hits, while striking out two in five innings. He knows that it is possible that he may not break camp with the Bucs, since he is slated to be the fifth starter and won't be needed until April 15, but he is choosing not to think about it.
"I understand the situation," Morton said. "If I'm the guy they choose not to be up there, there's nothing I can do about it. But I do want to pitch, maybe get one more start down here and go from there."
Rays Up Next: Jeremy Hellickson will start on Thursday afternoon, when the Rays travel to Clearwater to meet the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Ryan Reid and Marquis Fleming are also slated to see action. Cole Hamels is scheduled to start for the Phillies. Jonathan Papelbon also is scheduled to work.
Pirates Up Next: Right-hander James McDonald hopes to find the key to consistency when he starts against Minnesota at McKechnie Field at 1:05 p.m. ET. McDonald, the No. 3 starter in the Bucs' season-opening rotation, was brilliant in a seven-inning, two-hit outing on Saturday against the Astros, but has had chronic difficulty putting together consecutive good starts. Yet another lefty (Matt Maloney) will start against the Pirates, the 12th southpaw to oppose them in 25 Grapefruit League games.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.