FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Christian Vazquez helped his cause to win the backup catching spot for the Red Sox by logging a pair of hits in Thursday night's 4-3 win over the Pirates.
"You're seeing more consistent contact," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "[Vazquez] went through a stretch last year where coming off a season missed, he searched for who he was offensively. The time he spent in [Triple-A] Pawtucket was productive. Same with the at-bats he received this winter. You like to see him put the bat on the ball for obvious reasons. In his spot in the lineup where he could find himself, the ability to move runners ahead of him, hit and run, he's very capable of that."
Utility infielder Josh Rutledge, who is in competition to win Boston's final spot off the bench, had a triple. Marco Hernandez, Rutledge's main competition for that spot, smashed two hits. In a decisive two-run eighth inning, Sam Travis logged the tying single and Tzu-Wei Lin capped the rally with a go-ahead RBI single.
Ivan Nova, projected as the Bucs' No. 3 starter, held the Red Sox to four hits and one run over five strong innings. The Red Sox will likely see Nova again when the teams square off in a three-game series to open the regular season at Fenway Park.
The Pirates struck for some early offense against five-time All-Star Chris Sale, scoring three runs over the first three innings. Sale gave up seven hits and three runs over four innings.
"I didn't feel sharp today," Sale said. "I felt great, just not sharp. I wasn't able to locate when I needed to."
Jose Osuna, who is ranked as the Pirates' No. 29 prospect by MLB Pipeline.com, went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Minor Leaguer Gift Ngoepe, who was signed by the Bucs out of South Africa in 2008, had three hits.
Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel was sharp in his one inning, striking out two of the three batters he faced.
Up next for Red Sox: Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (2-0, 3.00 ERA) will try to continue his strong Spring Training when he starts against the Astros on Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Joe Kelly will get an inning in relief. Lefty Robby Scott, in competition for a bullpen spot, will also pitch. Dustin Pedroia and Pablo Sandoval should be back in the lineup after getting Thursday night off.