PITTSBURGH - Home runs to left field, home runs to right, line drives all over PNC Park. The Tampa Bay Rays are fast developing not only into one of the majors' best young teams, but one of the best teams, period.
Or exactly the kind of team the Pittsburgh Pirates have spent 16 years trying to become.
Evan Longoria and Eric Hinske hit three-run homers off Jimmy Barthmaier in his major league debut as the streaking Rays quickly opened a seven-run lead in beating Pittsburgh, 10-5, last night.
In a matchup of two of baseball's worst teams over the last decade, the much-improved Rays showed the Pirates their blueprint for rebuilding, with plenty of fast-progressing players who can hit for power.
The Rays are a franchise-best 17 games over .500 at 48-31 after winning four in a row, five of six, and 10 of 13; the Pirates are 37-42 during a 16th consecutive losing season and are a major league-worst 61-102 since interleague play began in 1997.
Barthmaier, a former Astros prospect who began the season in Double A, was called up because the Pirates are down two injured pitchers and are thin on minor league starting pitching prospects. His inexperience showed. The righthander gave up seven runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings and was in trouble from the start.
"We didn't want to give him a chance to settle in," said Longoria, who was 4 for 5 and is 12 for 24 over his last five games. "It's always tough on a first-time guy - he may be a little more amped up than normal. He was making too many mistakes over the plate. It's the big leagues, and guys are going to hit that. We did what we wanted to."
Carl Crawford singled and Hinske walked in the first ahead of Longoria's 15th homer, a drive to left-center that made it 3-0 only five batters into the game.
In the third, Hinske hit a 3-and-1 pitch deep into the right-field seats with two on and none out for his 13th homer. Dioner Navarro added an RBI double later in the inning, making it 7-0.
"I'll definitely work on what I need to do," said Barthmaier, who was optioned back to Triple A Indianapolis after the game.
Hinske and Crawford also scored three runs as the Rays' Nos. 1-5 hitters combined for 13 of their 15 hits. Crawford hit a solo homer, his eighth, off Sean Burnett in the sixth for his third hit.
The Pirates couldn't overcome Barthmaier's shaky debut despite scoring four runs in the fourth against Scott Kazmir (7-3). Kazmir won for the first time in four starts despite lasting only five innings. He hasn't pitched longer than 5 2/3 innings in his last three starts.
Kazmir didn't allow a hit until Freddy Sanchez hit his fifth homer leading off the fourth.
Reliever Denny Bautista, acquired in a trade Wednesday with Detroit, also made his Pirates debut but came out after being hit in the right forearm by Akinori Iwamura's line-drive single in the fourth. X-rays showed no break.