Pirates rally to tie Blue Jays in slugfest

Pirates rally to tie Blue Jays in slugfest

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Blue Jays rallied for four ninth-inning runs against reliever Antonio Bastardo, but the Pirates rallied back for three more -- keyed by Gift Ngoepe's RBI double -- in the bottom of the ninth, leading to an 11-11 tie Sunday afternoon at LECOM Park.

Gerrit Cole, the Pirates' Opening Day starter, allowed one run -- Ezequiel Carrera's solo homer -- on five hits over five innings. He faced the minimum nine batters on 36 pitches his first time through the order, with all five strikeouts coming in the first three innings.

"I thought we did good work. We were on the same page quite a bit. It was nice to see [catcher Francisco Cervelli] back there," Cole said. "I thought he looked great and he was calling a great game and using my stuff well."

After Carrera's homer gave the Blue Jays a lead in the fourth, the Pirates struck back with a fourth-run fourth against Lucas Harrell. Ngoepe continued his strong spring with an RBI single, Danny Ortiz drove in another run and Cole swatted a two-run single to right field.

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Toronto stormed back in the sixth against Pittsburgh closer Tony Watson. The Blue Jays' first four batters reached safely on three singles and a walk. Watson departed after recording two outs, then Jake Elmore delivered the biggest hit of the inning, a two-run double off right-hander Miguel Rosario. Pirates Minor Leaguer Michael Suchy hit a two-run homer in the seventh.

Right-hander Mike Bolsinger, who is in competition for a spot in Toronto's bullpen, started for the Blue Jays and struck out four over 2 2/3 two-hit innings. He left the game in the third as a precaution after tweaking his left ankle while running off the mound to cover first base on a grounder by Alen Hanson.

"I think it's to the point now where all my pitches are starting to come together," Bolsinger said. "I'm starting to get a feel for everything, most importantly the curveball and the slider, and a changeup, too, that I've been developing in the offseason. Not only getting a good feel for them, but hitting my spots with them, as well, is important for me. So I couldn't be any happier."

Blue Jays Up Next: Francisco Liriano will make his third spring start on Monday against the Twins at 1:07 p.m. ET at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin. The left-hander has struck out eight and walked one in five scoreless innings.

Pirates Up Next: The Pirates will head south to play the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday. Right-hander Jameson Taillon, the Bucs' No. 2 starter, will be on the mound for Pittsburgh. Right-hander Edgar Santana and lefty Wade LeBlanc are lined up to pitch after Taillon. Adam Frazier, Jordy Mercer, Josh Bell and David Freese are slated to be in the Pirates lineup.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.