KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Behind three strong innings from lefty Jonathan Sanchez and three of the same from right-hander Jeanmar Gomez, the Pirates held the Astros scoreless until the ninth inning of a 3-2 win Friday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
Sanchez, competing for a spot in the Pirates' rotation, put together his best outing of the spring. The lefty pounded the strike zone in an almost uncharacteristic way, throwing 27 of his 32 pitches for strikes after walking eight batters in his first 5 1/3 Grapefruit League innings. Sanchez gave up only one hit -- a leadoff single from Jose Altuve -- and struck out three.
Sanchez got all the run support he needed in the second inning. First baseman Garrett Jones, who went 2-for-3 in his first game since March 6, drove in the game's first run with an RBI single to left field in the second inning, then started a two-run rally in the seventh with another single. Travis Snider doubled in Josh Harrison, pinch-running for Jones, and then scored on a Josh Mercer sacrifice fly, with Astros right-hander Chia-Jen Lo surrendering both runs.
Jones' first hit scored Pedro Alvarez, who led off the second with a double to right off Astros right-hander Brad Peacock.
That was just about all Peacock permitted over five strong innings. Angling for a spot in Houston's rotation, Peacock allowed one run on four hits and a walk while striking out four. He stretched out to throw 84 pitches, 50 for strikes. After allowing five earned runs over his first 3 2/3 innings this spring, Peacock surrendered just one run on six hits in his past eight.
"I didn't have my best stuff today. I'm still trying to find my curveball, but fastball and changeup were very good," Peacock said. "Just letting them put the ball in play today, and the defense did the work behind me."
Up next: Right-hander Lucas Harrell will get back on the mound for the first time since March 5 as the Astros head to Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla., to take on the Nationals at 5:05 p.m. CT. Houston will face Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. Top prospects Jonathan Singleton and Carlos Correa, last year's No. 1 overall draft pick, are scheduled to make their Grapefruit League debuts for the Astros, with Singleton starting at first base in the game that will be broadcast on MLB.TV.