McLouth's homer propels Bucs over Blue Jays

McLouth's homer propels Bucs over Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Nate McLouth and Matt Hague each homered to give the Pirates a 3-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

McLouth's homer came with two outs in the eighth against Toronto's Drew Carpenter. McLouth had fallen behind in the count 0-1 before sending a pitch over the wall in center to give his club its ninth win of the spring. Hague added his seventh homer of the spring with a solo shot in the top of the ninth.

Pittsburgh's Jeff Karstens finished his spring with strong four outings of work. Karstens surrendered one run on four hits while striking out one batter and throwing 35 of his 51 pitches for strikes. Karstens' ended the Grapefruit League season having surrendered four earned runs in 17 innings while striking out 10.

Toronto's lone run came in the bottom of the fourth. Second baseman Kelly Johnson led off the inning with a double to left-center field and later came around to score on an RBI single by designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Blue Jays righty Brandon Morrow was nearly perfect against Pittsburgh while mixing in an overpowering fastball with strong command of his offspeed pitches. His lone blemishes were a pair of singles off the bat of Pirates right fielder Jose Tabata.

The 27-year-old Morrow struck out four batters without issuing a walk and throwing 34 of his 50 pitches for strikes. He finished the Grapefruit League season having surrendered just one earned run in 17 1/3 official innings. Morrow is expected to start Game 2 of Toronto's season on Saturday afternoon in Cleveland.

Up next: The Bucs will play the first of two spring games in Philadelphia on Monday when the Pirates face the Phillies in a 7:05 p.m. ET game. The Pirates went 1-3 against the Phillies in the Grapefruit League schedule and they will open the regular season against them on April 5 in Pittsburgh. The Pirates will use bullpen pitchers for Monday's game and then have James McDonald take the hill in Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. contest. The Phillies are expected to have Joe Blanton start on Monday and Cole Hamels on Tuesday.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.