ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Pedro Alvarezs first homer in almost three weeks helped the Pittsburgh Pirates improve to .500 for just the second time in more than two months. The slumping 2013 co-NL home run champion backed Edinson Volquezs pitching with a three-run shot, keying an 8-1 victory over the sputtering Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night. "It always helps, obviously, when I can contribute to a team victory," said Alvarez, whos hitting .232 with 12 homers and 38 RBIs. "Ive always said sometimes results arent indicative of how you may feel at the plate, and I feel like Im a good place," the slugger added. "Im just going to continue to work." Andrew McCutchen went 3 for 5, drove in two runs and stole two bases for the Pirates in a homecoming of sorts for last years NL MVP, who grew up in nearby Fort Meade and had never played before at Tropicana Field. He also scored twice in Pittsburghs first appearance in St. Petersburg since 2003. Alvarez, who hadnt homered since June 3, went deep off Alex Cobb (2-6) during a four-run fourth inning that also featured the first of McCutchens two RBI singles. The first-pitch, 419-foot drive over the wall in centre field snapped a season-high 16-game stretch without a homer -- Alvarezs longest since a 22-game drought that began in September 2012 and extended into last season. "A lot of times people have been taking their chances with Pedro, and hes an important part of our offence," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "We need him to fire, we need him to drive in runs and that was very good to see. Three-run homers always play well." Volquez (5-6) allowed five hits in a season-high eight innings. James Loney drove in Tampa Bays only run with a two-out, first-inning single, and the Pirates supported their starting pitcher by turning three double plays. "I got a lot of help," Volquez said. The Pirates climbed to .500 (38-38) for just the second time since April 17, when they were 8-8. They have won four of five following a three-game skid and are a NL-best 26-18 since May 6. Tampa Bay has dropped 19 of its past 27 and is saddled with the worst record in the major leagues at 31-47. "I feel like with every loss its an opportunity missed," Cobb said, adding if the Rays are going to turn their season around theyve got to get on a roll soon. McCutchen, who is batting .366 in June, boosted his average in 11 interleague games to .425 with nine walks, four doubles and seven RBIs. His run-scoring single off Cobb moved him ahead of Brian Giles for the Pirates career record for RBIs in interleague action with 52. He added another in the ninth off Kirby Yates. Alvarez, meanwhile, is hitting .317 with two home runs and eight RBIs against AL teams this season. Cobb, making his seventh start since spending five weeks on the disabled list with a left oblique strain, allowed six runs and six hits in five innings. Volquez won for the third time in his last five starts. The right-hander walked two, struck out one and didnt allow a hit after the fourth inning. Three of Tampa Bays six hits were infield singles, including Kevin Kiermaiers second-inning bunt. Jeanmar Gomez pitched the ninth for the Pirates, yielding a two-out single to Loney. NOTES: Pirates OF Starling Marte was back in the lineup after missing two games tending to a personal matter at home in the Dominican Republic. ... Pittsburgh RHP Gerrit Cole (right shoulder fatigue) threw 83 pitches over six innings in a simulated game and could rejoin the rotation this weekend. ... Pirates 2B Neil Walker (appendectomy) is expected to be reinstated from the DL Tuesday. ... The Rays havent announced if RHP Jeremy Hellickson (elbow) will need one more minor league start before returning. .. Tampa Bay 1B-OF Jerry Sands has a wrist injury, which Rays manager Joe Maddon said could require surgery. Cheap NFL Jerseys From China
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.com) - Manu Ginobili capped off a 26-point night with a go-ahead layup with 24 seconds left in overtime, with the basket giving the San Antonio Spurs a much-needed 95-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.ABBOTSFORD, B.C. - Benn Ferrieros goal at 2:22 of overtime lifted the Utica Comets to a 1-0 win over the Abbotsford Heat in American Hockey League action Friday. Ferriero walked out from the corner and found space short side on goaltender Joni Ortio for the winner. Joacim Eriksson made 36 saves for the Comets (14-20-5), who have now won three in a row after winning just once in their previous nine. Ortio stopped 28 shots for Abbotsford (26-14-3). Markus Granlund had the first quality scoring chance of the game with eight minutes to go in the first. Eriksson, however, snared the hard wrister that was labelled for the top corner to keep the game scoreless. The Heat thought they scored at 5:24 of the second period.dddddddddddd Sven Baertschis quick backhander seemed destined for the back of the net but Eriksson reached back with his paddle to pull the puck off the goal line. Though it was initially called a goal, upon review officials waved it off. With less than two minutes to go in the second Max Reinhart was sent in by Chris Breens perfect breakaway pass, but Eriksson kicked out his right pad to make the save. He made 24 through 40 minutes. Jordan Schroeder was playing his first game of the season after returning from a foot injury. The two teams face each other again Saturday night at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. ' ' '