Spring Synopsis: Duke puts up five zeroes

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The game: Zach Duke pitched five scoreless innings and Adam LaRoche homered in the Pirates' 4-4, 10-inning tie with the Minnesota Twins yesterday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton , Fla.

Duke, in bouncing back from his only poor showing of the spring, allowed four hits, struck out two and walked none. And one of those hits came when right fielder Brandon Moss misplayed a line drive into a double.

He finished with a 3.86 ERA, with two or fewer runs in seven of his eight appearances.

"It was nice to end up like that, for sure," Duke said.

"Zach worked hard this offseason, and it paid off," manager John Russell said. "He's throwing all his pitches to both sides of the plate."

LaRoche's shot, his third, came off Kevin Slowey's one-ball fastball in the second for a 1-0 lead. And it went to left-center, always a positive for LaRoche, who tends to hit best when he drives to the opposite field.

"I feel good," LaRoche said. "The last three or four games, I'm starting to get a little more of a put-together swing."

Reliever Donnie Veal allowed three hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings, but Sean Burnett followed with 1 2/3 perfect innings.

Injury update: Ian Snell, recovering from his stomach flu, will pitch two innings in a minor league game at Pirate City today. If all goes well, he will remain on track to pitch Tuesday in St. Louis .

Today: Ross Ohlendorf will start against the Minnesota Twins' Glen Perkins, 1:05 p.m. in Fort Myers .

Camp roster: 25, with 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders. All done.

Fun in the sun: Not nearly as many folks had fun at McKechnie as usual. The final spring average attendance closed at 4,590, with three sellouts in 19 dates, and that average represented a sharp decrease from the 5,404 of a year ago.

Inside pitch: While the Pirates engaged in a spring-long competition for outfield jobs, someone they released in November made a contender's roster: Chris Duffy beat out Tony Gwynn Jr. for the Milwaukee Brewers' final spot after a .315 spring.

Meet me in St. Louis: Two days until the opener.

Dejan Kovacevic can be reached at dkovacevic@post-gazette.com .


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