Franco hits fifth spring homer in win

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CLEARWATER, Fla. — Powered by a five-run, six-hit first inning, the Phillies topped the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-3, Sunday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

Philadelphia’s two through five hitters combined for the cycle in four consecutive at-bats against former Phillies pitcher Josh Lindblom in that inning. Howie Kendrick doubled, Odubel Herrera knocked him home with an RBI single, Maikel Franco hit his fifth home run of the spring, and Michael Saunders tripled. Later in the inning, Andrew Knapp brought home Saunders with his second homer of the spring.

“Both home runs were [up] in the zone,” said Lindblom, who is competing for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen. “When I had a chance to put guys away with offspeed stuff, they were up. They got good pitches to hit and didn’t miss them.”

Knapp's two-run dinger

The outing was uncharacteristic for Lindblom this spring. In nine innings entering Sunday, he had allowed just five hits and one unearned run. In just 1 2/3 innings, he allowed eight hits and five earned runs.

Clay Buchholz made his fifth appearances this spring, and his third less-than-stellar start in the month of March. He allowed three runs on five hits and four walks in his 3 1/3 innings.

“Command was a little bit off today with a couple pitches,” Buchholz said. “I wasn’t staying over the rubber as well as I had been the last couple times out, but those are easy fixes.”

It was the third time in his last four starts that Buchholz has allowed at least three runs in 3 1/3 innings or fewer. Over the course of the spring, he’s struck out 13 batters while walking nine.

Pirates Up Next: The Pirates will host the Twins at LECOM Park for a 6:05 p.m. ET game (MLB.TV) under the lights at LECOM Park on Monday, the first of back-to-back night games as the Bucs prepare to break camp. Right-hander Ivan Nova will make his final Grapefruit League start against Minnesota’s Phil Hughes. Setup man Felipe Rivero and bullpen candidate Tyler Webb are also scheduled to pitch for the Pirates.

Phillies Up Next: The Phillies make the short trip north to Dunedin, Fla., for the first of a two-game home-and-home series with the Blue Jays. The 6:07 p.m. ET start (Gameday audio) will feature Vince Velasquez (1-1, 3.07 ERA) and Aaron Sanchez (1-0, 7.36 ERA). Sanchez led all Blue Jays starters in 2016 with a 3.00 ERA.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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