Pirates beat Mets in 11, earn 55th win

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Between Pedro Alvarez’s first-inning, two-run home run and Jordy Mercer’s walk-off RBI single to center in the 11th, the Pirates couldn’t muster much offense against Mets starter Jeremy Hefner and the bullpen. Pirates starter Charlie Morton held the Mets down through five, but allowed an RBI single to David Wright in the sixth and a solo home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the seventh to tie it.

Rather than use closer Bobby Parnell in the eleventh after exhausting most of their other bullpen options, manager Terry Collins decided to play “by the book” and use 23-year-old Gonzalez Germen, who was making his Major League debut. Including his work in the Minors, he had pitched once since June 29. Andrew McCutchen walked to lead off the inning, then stole second base while Alvarez struck out. Russell Martin was intentionally walked to set up a double play, but Germen struck out Gaby Sanchez swinging for the second out. On the third pitch of the last at-bat of the game, Jordy Mercer snuck a ground ball up the middle, allowing McCutchen to score from second base to seal the win.

The victory is the 55th of the season for the Pirates. As the Cardinals defeated the Cubs earlier 3-2 for their 56th win, they remain one game ahead of the Pirates in first place in the NL Central. The Pirates have a four-game lead over the Cincinnati Reds for the first NL Wild Card spot.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.