by Steve Carney
Friday was certainly the case of "divide and be conquered," as Tampa Bay dropped both ends of a split-squad day, losing at home to the Baltimore Orioles 6-3, and coming up short in a 6-4 decision on the road to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Home starter Jeff Niemann ended up throwing six innings, but allowed five runs, all earned on ten hits, walking one and striking out five.
Tampa Bay got all of their runs in the third inning, as Steve Johnson walked Jason Bourgeois, Sean Rodriguez, and Mike Fontenot -- all with two out -- before Evan Longoria made him pay with a double to left field that got past Trayvon Robinson to allow all three runs to score.
Niemann allowed a pair of runs in the fifth on a single by Jonathan Schoop and a double play ground ball by Ryan Flaherty with the bases loaded before the Orioles took the lead for good an inning later. Jason Pridie started with a ground-rule double to left. Taylor Teagarden then grounded into the hole at second base. Sean Rodriguez made a great diving stop, but then threw the ball wide of first base, allowing Pridie to score the tying run. AFter Chris Dickerson flew out, Schoop launched a two-run homer over the boardwalk in left field for a 5-3 lead.
Steve Pearce's solo homer off Cesar Ramos to start the seventh set the score of the Port Charlotte game.
In Bradenton, Alex Cobb pitched into the seventh, allowing three runs on five hits, walking three and striking out five.
Tampa Bay got out to an early lead on the Pirates, thanks to a Shelley Duncan RBI groundout that scored Luke Scott in the second inning.
Pittsburgh tied the game in the third, and took a 3-1 lead an inning later.
Tampa Bay rallied to regain the advantage with a three-run sixth, but the Pirates used a three-run eighth inning off Dane De La Rosa and Kirby Yates to nail down the victory.
The full squad reunites for Satuirday's matchup against the Minnesota Twins, with David Price starting against Kevin Correia. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05, with coverage starting on 620 WDAE at 1:00.