BRADENTON (620 WDAE) -- Yonny Chirinos allowed just a single run in three innings, while the Tampa Bay Rays used a five-run seventh inning to bust open Wednesday's game at LECOM Park, taking a 9-3 decision from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Chirinos struck out six Pirates hitters, including the side on just ten pitches in the first inning, and said his split-finger worked well.
"The best pitch I used today was the splitter," Chirinos said through translator Manny Navarro. "It helped me strike guys out today. Throughout the spring it's been the two-seam [fastball], but today it was definitely the splitter."
"I caught him before last year when I was doing my rehab in Triple-A," his catcher Wilson Ramos added. "And today he impressed me a lot."
Elias Diaz drove in the only run against the Rays starter in the bottom of the second inning, as his base hit scored Josh Bell to give Pittsburgh its only lead.
Carlos Gomes tied the game in the top of the third with a double that drove in Andrew Velazquez, while Micah Johnson's first home run of the spring gave the Rays the lead for good.
Tampa Bay continued to add on in every inning through the seventh. Johnny Field made it 3-1 with an RBI groundout in the fifth, and Velazquez added a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
The seventh started with a solo homer from minor-leaguer Brandon Lowe, while Dalton Kelly's sacrifice fly made it a 6-1 game. Kean Wong added an RBI double, while Michael Brosseau and David Olmedo-Barrera each contributed a run scoring single for a 9-1 lead.
Eric Wood's solo home run off Vidal Nuno in the home seventh cut the lead back to seven runs, and Jacob Stallings had an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth off Colton Murray before the reliever could finish off the contest.
Tampa Bay got scoreless innings of relief from Alex Colome, Ryne Stanek and Jonny Venters.
The Rays return home to Port Charlotte Thursday, as the Minnesota Twins begin a home-and-home set at Charlotte Sports Park. Nathan Eovaldi is scheduled to get the start, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05.