BRADENTON, Fla. -- Not even a cut on his shin that required four stitches was going to put a damper on Hunter Pence's fine spring training.
Pence hit his first homer and had three hits with two runs scored before leaving in the fifth inning with the injury, and the Houston Astros beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-6 Wednesday.Pence was hurt when he slid into home and was spiked by Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit."I didn't even know I was cut until I took off my sock," Pence said. "I thought I was just going to ice a bruise and there was a cut. I'm totally fine. I'll be ready to play tomorrow."Pence is hitting .385 and is third on the team with eight RBIs. Against left-hander Brian Burres, he hit a run-scoring double in the first inning and a solo homer in the third."I felt good today," Pence said. "The wind was blowing out, so that was nice."Astros shortstop Angel Sanchez went 1 for 2 with a walk and scored two runs in his first game since March 15 because of lower back pain."I feel fine," Sanchez said. "I got some groundballs and (had) no problem."Astros catcher Humberto Quintero went 3 for 3. He also had two perfect pickoff throws, catching Doumit off second base in the fourth inning and Doumit again off first in the sixth inning."Everybody in the National League knows I'm going to throw," Quintero said. "I like to throw. It helps the pitcher and is good for us."J.A. Happ pitched six innings and allowed five runs on nine hits. The right-hander walked two and struck out four.Burres gave up six runs on 10 hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out two. Burres struggled with his command throughout the outing."A little bit wild," Burres said. "Even when I was throwing strikes, it wasn't where I wanted them all the time."Burres likely will begin the season at Triple-A Indianapolis. But he could get a spot start if right-hander James McDonald doesn't return soon from a side injury."If that's the case, I'll be ready," Burres said. "I wish the five innings today could've been a little bit better, but at least I'm at five innings."Burres also could end up in the bullpen in place of left-hander Joe Beimel, who's nursing a sore elbow."You try every time to go out there and take it outing by outing," Burres said. "The other stuff is going to take care of itself after you're done pitching. You want to make it as simple as possible with how you pitch, just throw as many strikes as you can, quality pitches, and not think about what will happen afterwards."Andrew McCutchen hit a two-run homer for the Pirates, who have lost six of eight. Pedro Alvarez hit his first homer, a long solo shot to center against the wind.
Astros RHP Brandon Lyon pitched in a minor league game. An illness forced Lyon to be scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday. ... Beimel (elbow inflammation) will throw off a mound Thursday and hopes to be ready for opening day. "I wouldn't count myself out for being ready, but I'm not going to do anything stupid, either," Beimel said. ... Pirates C Chris Snyder (sore back) will be in the lineup Thursday against Baltimore. Snyder has not played since March 9. ... Pirates RHP McDonald is scheduled to start Saturday against the New York Yankees. McDonald has not pitched since March 11. ... The Pirates unconditionally released RHP Fernando Nieve.