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(Monday, June 23)
Final Score: Pittsburgh 8, Tampa Bay 1
St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Pedro Alvarez clubbed a three-run homer and Edinson Volquez pitched eight strong innings, as the Pittsburgh Pirates pounded the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-1, to open a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
Andrew McCutchen added three hits and knocked in two runs for the Pirates, who have won three straight games.
"We're just staying aggressive within our approach and our zone and laying off the good pitcher's pitches," Alvarez said of Pittsburgh's offense.
Volquez (5-6), who surrendered five hits and a run, exited after throwing 110 pitches, the most this season for the right-hander.
James Loney drove in the only run for the Rays (31-47), who had a chance to climb out of the cellar from baseball's worst mark, but remain behind the Arizona Diamondbacks (32-47).
Alex Cobb (2-6) yielded six hits and six runs over five innings and lost his second straight start. He gave up only one earned run combined over his previous two appearances.
"He was fighting himself, maybe overthinking it a little bit," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Cobb. "Overall, command was not there with his fastball and the velocity was down a click. Maybe the motion on the bases may have bothered him a bit."
The Pirates had four steals, two from McCutchen.
Starling Marte scored on an Ike Davis groundout in the opening inning and Russell Martin plated McCutchen on what was ruled a base hit. The ball hit off Cobb, whose off-balance throw went over the head of first baseman James Loney.
The Rays cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the first when Loney's groundball single to left scored Desmond Jennings.
Pittsburgh exploded for four runs in the third. Marte led off with a double and came home on McCutchen's grounder into center field. McCutchen stole second and moved to third on a fly out. After Josh Harrison walked with two outs, Alvarez smashed his 12th homer of the year, a shot to center, for a 6-1 cushion.
Travis Snider singled in a run in the eighth and McCutchen's base hit in the ninth plated Gregory Polanco, who singled to start the frame. Polanco has reached base safely in each of his first 12 major league games since making his debut against the Cubs at PNC Park on June 10.
The teams are meeting for the first time since the 2008 season and for the first time at Tropicana Field since 2003 ... Pittsburgh has won eight of its last 11 road games ... McCutchen has 53 career RBI in interleague play, the most in Pirates history, two more than Brian Giles ... A victory on either Tuesday or Wednesday would give Pittsburgh its fifth straight road series win ... The Bucs have homered in 10 of their last 11 road contests.
06/24 00:42:44 ET