ST. LOUIS -- Ross Ohlendorf came to the Pirates with a reputation for throwing plenty hard and having plenty of options, from slider to changeup to curveball.
So, what was he doing going almost exclusively fastball-sinker -- a la Brandon Webb -- in his solid showing in the 2-1 loss to St. Louis yesterday?
"Honestly, my sinker has always been my best pitch," Ohlendorf said. "And, once I saw that it was working, I just decided, hey, I'm going to stick with this."
He held the Cardinals scoreless through six and ended up charged with two runs and seven his in six-plus. He only struck out one and seldom came close to the advertised velocity in the high 90s, but he walked one and seemed fully in control throughout.
Maybe he is on to something.
"I'll always use the sinker."
Manager John Russell sounded plenty pleased with Ohlendorf's first start, especially in light of a strong spring.
"I thought he threw the ball really well," Russell said. "What I liked, too, was that he made a lot of good adjustments all day. It went really well for him."
Pedro Alvarez, the Pirates' first-round draft pick last June, hit a two-run home run, a two-run double and went 3 for 4 with four RBIs in his professional debut last night, Class A Lynchburg's 6-5 victory against visiting Potomac.
Batting third in the Hillcats' lineup, Alvarez grounded out his first time up, then singled and scored a run, then hit his home run -- a towering shot to left-center off Andrew Kown -- then hit the double, a laser over the center fielder's head.
"Man, I was just trying to put a good swing on everything," Alvarez said afterward. "I was just fortunate to have that work. If I was going to strike out, I was going to strike out swinging at strikes. I really felt like I stuck to my routine."
The Pirates will honor the three fallen Pittsburgh police officers -- Paul Sciullo II, Eric G. Kelly and Stephen J. Mayhle -- with a moment of silence and the playing of taps before the home opener Monday.
The players will wear Pittsburgh Bureau of Police caps in the game, and the visiting Houston Astros will wear those caps during pregame introductions. All caps will be signed and auctioned off, with all proceeds benefiting the Pittsburgh Police Fallen Heroes Fund.
• Third baseman Andy LaRoche was given a second day off, and his brother, Adam, was given a first. Andy was out in place of Ramon Vazquez to add a left-handed bat facing Chris Carpenter, and Adam was sick.
• Reliever Romulo Sanchez, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and was assigned to Class AAA Indianapolis.
• Russell plans to give catcher Ryan Doumit his first day off tomorrow.
• Pitcher Ronald Uviedo, added to the 40-man roster this past offseason, has been converted from relief to starting. He will make his first start for Lynchburg tomorrow.