BRADENTON — RHP Alex Cobb really wanted the physical and mental challenge of pitching into the seventh inning Friday, so he asked, begged and, depending on whom you ask, may have bribed coaches Jim Hickey and Dave Martinez into letting him do so.
The payoff, which may or may not be breakfast this morning, was worth it for Cobb, who said his 103-pitch outing in the 6-4 loss to the Pirates was a good test for the regular season. The Rays' other split squad also lost, 6-3 to the Orioles in Port Charlotte, giving Tampa Bay a 14-12 spring record.
"It was the most comparable to a real game that I've felt this spring," Cobb said. "I went through my challenges with runners on, working through jams, working through my mechanics, figuring things out. And I got up and got down seven times for the innings, which is really nice to get that feeling."
Cobb talked his way into facing the first batter of the seventh, whom he struck out, finishing with a line of 6 1/3 innings, three runs, five hits, three walks and five strikeouts. He was pleased with the adjustments he made after leaving too many pitches up in a three-hit fourth, and he had a couple of stellar defensive plays.
PIRATES 6, RAYS 4: DH Luke Scott continued his impressive spring, doubling to the gaps. "Exactly what we're trying to do," he said. Scott was running at a cautious pace but said his legs were fine. … SS Ben Zobrist hit his first spring homer, a liner to left off LHP Mike Zagurski. … The Rays led 4-3 until RHP Dane De La Rosa allowed a two-out double and a walk in the eighth and RHP Kirby Yates gave up a three-run homer. … C Chris Gimenez (.378) doubled in a run.
ORIOLES 6, RAYS 3: The Rays had only four hits, though one was a bases-clearing double by 3B Evan Longoria, his team-high seventh. Longoria also made a nice leaping catch. "He's looking very sharp," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's moving better. The running is better, moving on the field, everything is better."… C Jose Molina, in his first start since returning from the World Baseball Classic, hit the ball hard in two at-bats, including a single off the leftfield wall. He also caught six innings, with Maddon saying he was "sharper than I anticipated." … RHPs Kyle Farnsworth and Brandon Gomes each threw a scoreless inning, and LHP Cesar Ramos allowed a solo homer.
Busy FULD: OF Sam Fuld, out since March 4 because of right hamstring tightness, felt good after an active day in a Triple-A game, going 2-for-4 with a single and double. Maddon said Fuld will likely get into a game Sunday or Monday.
THE ONE: C Craig Albernaz got his first hit in a major-league exhibition. Albernaz, a career organization man from Eckerd College, has been to five major-league camps and had been 0-for-8.
BUSH UPDATE: Today is the one-year anniversary of former Rays RHP Matt Bush's DUI hit-and-run accident and arrest in North Port, which effectively ended the career of the 2004 top overall pick. Bush, who accepted a plea deal in December that equated to 3½ years in prison, is currently serving his time at Hamilton Correctional Institute in Jasper. A $5 million civil suit with Bush and the family of the victim, 72-year-old Tony Tufano, is still ongoing, with Bush's deposition scheduled for next week.
New TV addition: Kelly Nash, who had been covering ACC sports, tweeted that she is joining the Rays' TV broadcast team. She replaces reporter Laura McKeeman.
MISCELLANY: Today's game will be a co-broadcast with the Twins, so it's Dewayne Staats and Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in the booth. … The Rays are hosting a luau after today's game. Tickets are an additional $50, benefiting Charlotte County charities. … MLB Network will show Sunday's game against the Yankees live.