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03/02/2013 7:22 PM ET

Gomez acknowledges room to improve

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Look what the wind blew out -- a two-run home run by Miguel Cabrera in the third inning of the Pirates' 4-1 loss to the Tigers on Saturday.

Without the seriously wind-aided blow, the Pirates probably would have lost anyway. They recorded just five hits and didn't score until the eighth inning. But absent Cabrera's home run, which traveled well beyond the fence in right-center, starter Jeanmar Gomez might have exited after three innings feeling better about himself and not ashamed of his ERA.

As it was, the 25-year-old right-hander obtained from the Indians in the offseason carried an unsightly 16.62 ERA to the clubhouse. He surrendered three walks, three hits and all the Tigers' runs.

"The wind made a big difference on that ball, but I wanted to pitch better than I did," said Gomez, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation -- he hopes -- though the wind had little to do with the booming, run-scoring triple Jeff Kobernus hit in the first inning or the only three walks allowed by the Pirates in the game.

Gomez has given up eight runs -- all earned -- six hits and five walks to the 24 batters he's faced in two starts.

"I know I have to be better," he said. "I have to get my pitches down. They were down in the first inning, but they were up in the second and third. The pitch Cabrera hit ... I thought it was a fly ball to center. It went so far."

"We were happy to get him," manager Clint Hurdle said, "but we see some things that we need to help him with. We will."

Lack of sleep comes with territory for Hurdle

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Any baseball game has the potential to become a yawner, though some have more potential than others. So it was on Saturday, when the Pirates played the Tigers 120 miles north of their home in Bradenton. Manager Clint Hurdle didn't sleep during the bus ride -- and he had arrived at the Pirates' complex at 5:45 a.m. ET.

Some managers do that sort of thing for reasons of solitude and undisturbed time.

Hurdle would have been forgiven had he slept in until 7. He had been in Fort Myers on Friday night when one of his split-squad teams played the Red Sox. He didn't return to his Spring Training home until 12:45 a.m. on Saturday. Moreover, he was in camp at 5:30 on Friday morning, then worked his team's afternoon game in Sarasota.

His comment about all those hours without what any doctor would consider insufficient sleep?

"There's a line in 'The Godfather,'" Hurdle said. "'This is the life you've chosen.'"

He can sleep in November.

Worth noting

• Greg Johnson, the Pirates' longtime travel secretary, knows his baseball history, and he insisted on Saturday that the Alou family -- Felipe; his son, Moises; and his brothers, Jesus and Matty -- had another member who played in the big leagues.

"It was in the '70s," Johnson said."You don't remember Boog-Alou?"

Of course, Jesus Alou has a place in Pirates history. As a member of the Astros, he was the final batter in a Pittsburgh victory over Houston at Three Rivers Stadium. The tying and go-ahead runs were on base with one out in the ninth inning. Alou pinch-hit against Kent Tekulve. A double play ensued.

And Vince Lasheid, the wonderful Three Rivers organist, immediately played the hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.