Gomes' pinch homer lifts Blue Jays over Bucs
Snider, Valbuena add dingers in third straight win vs. Pittsburgh
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Yan Gomes' pinch-hit homer snapped a tie in the seventh inning Wednesday and the Toronto Blue Jays went on to an 8-6 Grapefruit League victory over Pittsburgh, their third consecutive exhibition win over the Pirates.The Blue Jays had rallied into a 4-4 tie in the fifth as the first five batters reached base against Brad Lincoln. Travis Snider's two-run homer, his first, made it 4-3 and was followed by consecutive doubles by Travis d'Arnaud and Adam Lind to tie the score. Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones hit their first home runs of the season as the Pirates built an early 4-0 lead.
Hitless in his previous five at-bats, Alvarez ripped a full-count pitch from Kyle Drabek in the second to the opposite field over the left-field wall. Jones followed in the third, connecting off Drew Hutchison.Jeff Karstens blanked the Blue Jays on two hits in becoming the first Pittsburgh pitcher stretched out to three innings. He had one strikeout without a walk. "A pretty good workout for me. I feel better than I've felt in a long time," Karstens said. "But I'm still trying to get better. I got away with a couple of fastballs moving too much. "And the changeup is coming along; I really haven't had it the last couple of years, and it's something that can really benefit me if I can get it to back away." Pittsburgh's Starling Marte hit a two-run home run in the seventh to make it 7-6, but Luis Valbuena added a solo shot in the eighth for the Blue Jays and an 8-6 advantage.
It was Toronto's sixth straight win over Pittsburgh in Grapefruit League play, since March 3, 2010.Blue Jays Up next: In the first of three spring meetings with the team they'll try to unseat as AL East champs, the Blue Jays host the Yankees in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Dunedin on Thursday. Left-hander Brett Cecil will make his second start.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.