Jones' return lifts Pirates behind solid Sanchez

Jones' return lifts Pirates behind solid Sanchez

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Behind three strong innings from lefty Jonathan Sanchez and three of the same from right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, the Pirates held the Astros scoreless until the ninth inning of a 3-2 win Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.

Sanchez, competing for a spot in the Pirates' rotation, put together his best outing of the spring. The lefty pounded the strike zone in an almost uncharacteristic way, throwing 27 of his 32 pitches for strikes after walking eight batters in his first 5 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. Sanchez gave up only one hit -- a leadoff single from Jose Altuve -- and struck out three.

Sanchez got all the run support he needed in the second inning. First baseman Garrett Jones, who went 2-for-3 in his first game since March 6, drove in the game's first run with an RBI single to left field in the second inning, then started a two-run rally in the seventh with another single. Travis Snider doubled in Josh Harrison, pinch-running for Jones, and then scored on a Josh Mercer sacrifice fly, with Astros right-hander Chia-Jen Lo surrendering both runs.

Jones' first hit scored Pedro Alvarez, who led off the second with a double to right off Astros right-hander Brad Peacock.

That was just about all Peacock permitted over five strong innings. Angling for a spot in Houston's rotation, Peacock allowed one run on four hits and a walk while striking out four. He stretched out to throw 84 pitches, 50 for strikes. After allowing five earned runs over his first 3 2/3 innings this spring, Peacock surrendered just one run on six hits in his past eight.

"I didn't have my best stuff today. I'm still trying to find my curveball, but fastball and changeup were very good," Peacock said. "Just letting them put the ball in play today, and the defense did the work behind me."

Up next: The Pirates travel to Fort Myers, Fla., for their third preseason game in Hammond Stadium against the Twins, with Gerrit Cole making his third start in a game that will be available via an exclusive webcast on At the same time, A.J. Burnett will be starting a Minor League game at Pirate City, expected to make 80-85 pitches.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.