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Bucs shuffle Alvarez to fifth for first time this season

Bucs shuffle Alvarez to fifth for first time this season

PITTSBURGH - Facing a confrontation with Cincinnati left-hander Tony Cingrani, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle's search for an offensive pick-me-up led to Gaby Sanchez batting cleanup.

Pedro Alvarez, in the four-hole in each of his first 21 starts of the season, was dropped to No. 5.

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"Just trying to help. Runs have been hard to come by," Hurdle said prior to the finale of the four-game series with the Reds. "I just want to find a way to get more guys into play. Gaby has shown up well against left-handed pitching, so we're trying to make the most of this opportunity."

The Bucs were facing a left-handed starter for only the second time this season. On the first occasion, Alvarez remained at cleanup against the Cubs' Travis Wood, going 0-for-3 against him. Later in that April 10 game, he struck a game-deciding three-run homer off another lefty, reliever James Russell.

So Cingrani's presence wasn't as responsible for lowering Alvarez in the batting order as the third baseman's overall struggles. He entered the game hitting .173, with three hits in his last 22 at-bats.

Alvarez is second in the National League with six homers, which have accounted for 10 of his 13 RBIs.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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