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Postgame: Making contact

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BRADENTON, Fla. — Saturday, the Pirates struck out nine times in 32 at-bats against the Rays. They lost, 9-5.

Today, the Pirates struck out four times in 37 at-bats against the Rays. They won, 10-3.

It’s no coincidence, said manager Clint Hurdle.

“We had over 20 at-bats with two strikes today,” Hurdle said. “We put the ball in play 20 times. We had (four) punchouts, compared to nine yesterday. We made better adjustments at the plate than yesterday. We need to pay attention on deck and watch the hitter before us. We went through a stretch yesterday of 13 up, 13 down. Kind of soft. Today, it looked like our focus was a bit better. The quality of pitching can have something to do with it. I just thought our game plan on offense played out better today.”

»»» Rule 5 pickup Josh Rodriguez will get his first start Monday in the split-squad game against the Orioles. Rodriguez will bat second and play shortstop.

Ronny Cedeno will start at short tomorrow against the Rays. Cedeno will bat in the No. 2 spot. The starting outfield in that game will be, from left to right, Alex Presley, Gorkys Hernandez and Matt Diaz.

»»» Neil Walker will be split away from Jose Tabata and Andrew McCutchen tomorrow. After batting second in the first two games, Walker will be in the No. 3 spot against the Rays. In the Orioles game, Tabata will lead off and McCutchen will hit third.

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