Devil Rays 5

(11-14, 7-5 away)

Pirates 7

(15-13, 10-4 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 28, 2006

    McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    TB 000004100 5 - -
    PIT 10321000 - 7 - -

    Pittsburgh 7, Tampa Bay 5

    BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Paul Maholm wouldn't accept the finish, no matter how good the rest of his start was. For Scott Kazmir, another ineffective spring training start wasn't a worry, even though the season is fast approaching.

    Maholm cruised through five innings, allowing one hit and one walk, before a brief streak of wildness led to a four-run Tampa Bay sixth inning in the Pittsburgh Pirates' 7-5 win over the Devil Rays on Tuesday.

    With both teams starting many of their regulars, the Pirates roughed up Kazmir for seven runs -- four earned -- and 11 hits in 4 1-3 innings, elevating his ERA to 9.24. That's hardly the figure expected of an opening-day starter.

    "But I think I'm ready, I really do," said Kazmir, who has permitted 17 hits, 12 earned runs and 10 walks in 7 2-3 innings over his last three starts against major league teams. "I'm not concerned with this. I felt great. I think I was spotting the ball well."

    Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon blamed some sloppy defense for making Kazmir's start look worse than he felt it was. On a sunny day when fielders for both teams struggled, the Devil Rays' three errors included an uncaught pop fly that landed beside third baseman Aubrey Huff, leading to a two-run fourth.

    Jason Bay also singled in that inning while going 4-for-4 and is hitting .464. Craig Wilson also had a two-run double.

    The Devil Rays did nothing with Maholm until he walked Greg Norton and Julio Lugo starting the sixth. Carl Crawford followed with a two-run double that brought on reliever Ryan Vogelsong, who immediately gave up a two-run homer to Jorge Cantu.

    The left-handed Maholm, coming off a brief but promising debut last season in which he went 3-1 with a 2.18 ERA in six starts, said the sixth inning was unacceptable.

    "It was one of those innings where you lose it for a couple of guys, throw a good pitch but then a guy hits a double," Maholm said. "Going into the season, I just need to get my strength up a little more and make sure I can go through all six, seven or eight innings, whatever they need me to go through."

    The 23-year-old Maholm, one of four Pirates starting pitchers 24 or younger, will pitch in the Pirates' minor league camp on Sunday before his first start of the season, April 7 in Cincinnati. Like Kazmir, he was more bad than good this spring, with a 7.83 ERA, but he is not discouraged.

    "I think it's going pretty well -- as a young guy, it's fun to stick around all spring and make the team, because that's one of goals you set," he said. "I just would have liked to have pitched a lot better. I set standards for myself that keep me working, I had some outings that were rough and I can't accept that. I just have to get after it and it's good the spring's winding down."< Notes: The Devil Rays made two roster cuts, optioning RHP Tim Corcoran to Triple-A Durham and reassigning LHP Wayne Franklin to their minor league camp. They still have 38 players in camp, 13 over the opening-day limit. The Pirates, carrying 35 players, expect to make some cuts Wednesday.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press