Pirates sail past Phillies 8-5

March 10, 2008 8:57:53 PM PDT
Most pitchers don't know who they will face at this stage of spring training, Double-A players or All-Stars. That's why Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Ian Snell welcomed seeing Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins in Philadelphia's lineup. Snell is trying to get locked in for the regular season, and he'd much rather be matched against the Phillies' regulars than those who will be playing at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Snell gave up a solo home run to Burrell but otherwise was efficient while pitching four innings in the Pirates' 8-5 victory over Philadelphia on Monday, striking out two and allowing two hits.

Jason Bay and Ryan Doumit had RBI doubles in the first against Phillies starter J.D. Durbin, who gave up five runs and eight hits over 3 1-3 innings while falling behind 5-1. Bay and Nate McLouth each drove in two runs.

Burrell homered and doubled, but Snell got Howard to strike out and ground out as he experimented with throwing more off-speed pitches and working inside regularly.

"They're a good team, and I'm glad they brought all their players. It helps me get ready for the season," Snell said. "They've got their team set. Their whole lineup was just about their lineup for the season."

The Phillies lost their fifth in a row and seventh in eighth games, but Snell thinks they're on par with the New York Mets in the NL East.

"I know the Mets said they're going to win and everything, but you got to watch out, Philly is good, too," Snell said.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said it's apparent why his team isn't winning, even if the games are meaningless. The starters have a 10.85 ERA this spring and have permitted 33 earned runs over 21 2-3 innings during the last eight games.

"Somewhere along the line, we've got to start holding them," Manuel said. "It seems like every day we're losing. I'd like to see somebody keep us in a game. People say these games don't count, but every time you pick up a ball to pitch, these games count for you personally."

As Snell knows. He was 14-11 in 2006, but slipped to 9-12 last season despite having a better ERA than the previous season (3.76 to 4.74). He won only three times in the second half of the season, which might have led him to alter his approach.

"Last year I was more trying to be overpowering. This year I'm trying to stay relaxed and hit my spots," Snell said. "I threw up and in, down and in, down and away, up and away. I kept them off balance and threw a lot of off-speed pitches."

Snell pitched shortly after learning the Pirates renewed his contract. The sides had held preliminary discussions about a multiyear deal.

Byung-Hyun Kim, the former Diamondbacks and Red Sox pitcher, also made his Pirates debut after signing late last month. He gave up a solo home run, to Howard, but retired the other three hitters he faced in the sixth.

Kim, who was with three clubs last season, is back in the bullpen after primarily being a starter since 2005.

"Always, a new team is exciting," said Kim, in the running to be a middle reliever. "I have to change my routine."

Notes: The Phillies and Pirates are off Tuesday. ... The Pirates had lost eight of 10. ... Pittsburgh also renewed the contracts of LHP Zach Duke and OF Kevin Thompson, who played briefly last season for the Yankees and Athletics. ... Brett Myers, the Phillies' scheduled opening-day starter, allowed two runs and threw 75 pitches in 5 2-3 innings during an intrasquad game in Clearwater. ... Phillies closer Brad Lidge threw in the bullpen for the first time since right knee surgery two weeks ago. He hopes to be ready by opening day.


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