By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 17, 2015

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) - Chris Carter was 3 for 3 with two doubles and four RBIs to break out of a spring-training slump and lift the Houston Astros over the Pittsburgh Pirates 13-7 Tuesday.

Carter had entered 1 for 13 with two RBIs in the exhibition season.

Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke was roughed up for six runs and seven hits in three innings, leaving him with a 9.00 ERA.

“Left some pitches over the plate and they just fell in,” Locke said.

Locke is competing for a rotation spot with right-hander Vance Worley, who pitched four scoreless innings Sunday. Locke said the Pirates have given no indication regarding when a fifth starter could be announced.



“Everything has been so hush-hush and kept under a hat,” he said. “I think the best you can do is try to keep everything the same. Try to be the best Jeff you can be every time you go out.”

With the Pirates trailing 4-0, Pittsburgh’s Neil Walker hit a three-run homer in the third off Roberto Hernandez.

Carlos Correa hit his first home run of spring training, a sixth-inning drive off John Holdzkom.

OPENERS

Astros: Houston manager A.J. Hinch said LHP Dallas Keuchel is expected to start the Astros opener at home against Cleveland on April 6. Keuchel was 12-9 with a 2.93 ERA last year.

Pirates: LHP Francisco Liriano will be the Pirates’ opening day starter April 6 versus Cincinnati. He will be the first Pirates pitcher to start on opening day in consecutive seasons since LHP Oliver Perez in 2005 and ‘06.

STARTING TIME

Astros: Hernandez allowed three runs and four hits in three innings. The right-hander, who signed a minor league contract in February, has allowed five runs in eight innings in the exhibition season.

Pirates: Locke said he would accept a bullpen assignment should the Pirates put him there. He added: “I don’t think feel like that’s where I’m best suited. Those decisions are out of my hands.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Pirates: CF Andrew McCutchen remains day to day with lower body soreness. “I’m taking my time,” he said. “Rather be safe than sorry.”

UP NEXT

Astros: After an off day, Houston will visit the New York Mets on Thursday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. RHP Collin McHugh is expected to start.

Pirates: A.J. Burnett is the planned starter against Detroit’s Shane Green on Wednesday night in Bradenton. Burnett has allowed one hit and two runs in 4 1-3 innings this spring training.

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