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Pirates 6, Tigers 4

Pirates 6, Tigers 4
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - Nate McLouth is getting more comfortable with each at-bat in spring training.

McLouth hit a three-run homer Sunday to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers. The outfielder went 2-for-3 after going hitless in his first two spring games, striking out twice in four at-bats.

"The first couple games I was a little jumpy, and I still am," McLouth said. "It takes a while every year, 15-20 (at-bats) or so, but I'm getting there."

McLouth grounded into a double play against Detroit's Justin Verlander in the first inning. He singled in the fourth and was caught stealing.

McLouth had the big blow in the Pirates' five-run fifth, hitting a fastball from Zach Miner over the right-field wall.

There was a stiff breeze blowing out to right field when McLouth went deep but he said it made it more difficult for him to hit.

"As a left-handed hitter, it's blowing right in your face when you're at the plate, drying out your eyes," McLouth said. "If you can play outfield and hit in a wind like that here in Florida, you can play anywhere."

A year ago, McLouth came to camp fighting for a starting job. After winning a Gold Glove in center field and being named to the NL All-Star team, that pressure is gone.

"My mentality might be a little different from a competition standpoint, but I still want to get ready in plenty of time for the season," McLouth said. "I want to peak in spring training as early as I can, so I can get locked in before the season starts."

Brent Clevlen, who hit a two-run triple in Detroit's three-run first, was inserted into the lineup when left fielder Marcus Thames was scratched. Thames made the trip to Bradenton, but left before the game to be with his wife, Danna, who is due to give birth.

"She had contractions all last night," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Clevlen, who is out of minor league options, is part of a wide-open battle for a backup outfielder job. Ryan Raburn, Casper Wells and Alexis Gomez also are in the mix.

"We're gonna mix it up out there," Leyland said. "They'll all get a chance."

Curtis Granderson's homer in the fifth inning gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead.

Notes: Verlander pitched three innings and allowed a run and one hit. He walked two and struck out one. ... Pirates left-hander Phil Dumatrait, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, is at least two weeks from making his first spring appearance. Dumatrait may begin the season on the disabled list. ... Tigers infielder Jeff Larish (stiff neck) did not make the trip. ... Leyland plans to give second baseman Placido Polanco and shortstop Adam Everett the day off Monday. ... The Tigers' Jeremy Bonderman, who is battling recurring shoulder pain, will not throw for another couple days. "I don't think it will be long," Leyland said.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 1, 2009

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