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Barthmaier endures rocky debut

Barthmaier endures rocky debut

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PITTSBURGH -- It was a game oddsmakers would have given the Pirates little chance to win with the way the starting matchup panned out.

Don't tell Jimmy Barthmaier that, however, because it surely wasn't going to lessen his disappointment as he held his first big league postgame media session after the Pirates' 10-5 loss to the Rays in front of 19,970 fans at PNC Park on Friday.

"It didn't work out the way I wanted it to," said Barthmaier, who was making his Major League debut. "I left a couple of pitches up in the zone, and at this level, they make you pay."

Barthmaier was also dealt the news that he would be returning to Triple-A Indianapolis. Though it was initially expected that Barthmaier would also be in line to make next Wednesday's start, the righty's ineffectiveness has prompted the organization to go with someone else.

The Pirates offense did its job on Friday, roughing up Rays starter Scott Kazmir as well as any other opponent has this season. However, it would prove immaterial when Barthmaier couldn't carry his wait.

"We're going to tell him not to do too much but to be yourself," manager John Russell said before the game. "The one thing is that he shouldn't try to be something he's not."

It started out as well as planned when Barthmaier got a first-pitch called strike and then induced a groundout to the first Major League batter he faced. And to his credit, despite issuing two walks, for the most part, Barthmaier didn't stop challenging hitters.

But challenging hitters quickly morphed into leaving too many pitches in the wheelhouse. As the first progressed, Barthmaier allowed a single and a two-out walk before rookie sensation Evan Longoria took him deep.

Longoria's three-run blast would be the first of two three-run shots Barthmaier served up in his short 2 1/3-inning start. Rays outfielder Eric Hinske went deep with no outs in the third.

"I thought his stuff was good, but he was just making too many mistakes over the plate," said Longoria, who finished the game 4-for-4. "It's the big leagues. Guys are going to hit that up here."

Barthmaier would give up two more hits, including a run-scoring double, in the third before Russell felt obligated to turn to his bullpen.

"I think it was a good learning experience for him," Russell said. "We told him, 'Don't take too much negative from this.' He worked awfully hard to get here and that's what will get him back here."

Though the scoring frenzy would slow considerably, the news wouldn't exactly get better for Pittsburgh pitchers.

Denny Bautista relieved Barthmaier and successfully stranded a runner at third by getting two outs to end the third. However, on the fifth pitch of the following inning, Bautista, who was making his first appearance for the Pirates, would take a line drive off his right forearm and have to leave the game.

Results of the X-rays showed that, fortunately, nothing was broken. However, Bautista is expected to be out at least for the remainder of the weekend while the swelling and soreness dissipates. His status is listed as day-to-day.

Despite the seven-run hole, credit the Pirates offense for coming to life against a lefty that entered the game with a dominant 2.03 ERA. It would have been the Majors' lowest such mark if Kazmir had enough innings to qualify among league leaders. Because of an elbow injury, though, he wasn't able to make his first start until May 4.

A leadoff homer by Freddy Sanchez in the fourth gave Pittsburgh its first hit of the night. After two more runners reached, Chris Gomez came to the plate, looking to make Russell's decision to put him in the lineup pay off.

Russell didn't have to study the stat sheet long -- seeing Gomez's 7-for-14 career line against Kazmir was reason enough to start the 37-year-old infielder in place of first baseman Adam LaRoche. Gomez responded by knocking in the second run of the fourth with a single.

Jack Wilson followed with a two-RBI single to close the gap to 7-4. Wilson would have another RBI hit in the sixth, but the Pirates would go down quietly against the Rays bullpen in the final three frames.

"I thought we swung the bats well tonight," Russell said. "It was a little too big of a mountain to climb."

Credit reliever Sean Burnett, too, for even giving the offense a realistic attempt at a fruitful comeback. Forced into the game when Bautista left injured, Burnett pitched three innings, his longest appearance of the season.

The lefty gave up a solo homer, but otherwise limited the Rays to just one hit.

"It's to the point now where I'm kind of relaxed and not trying to do too much," said Burnett, who has allowed just one run in his last six innings. "About two or three starts ago, something clicked in my delivery or release point. Once I got that sinker back, my confidence raised."

Fellow left-hander John Grabow would be the victim of the final two Tampa Bay runs, which put this one out of reach late.

With Friday's loss, the Pirates ensured themselves of finishing Interleague Play below .500 for the 10th time in 11 seasons. They have three more games remaining (two against Tampa Bay and a makeup contest against the Yankees) to improve upon their current 4-8 record.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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