The outcome: So here’s why you stay to the end of a game, even if it’s an exhibition. The Sox closed out their 3-2 win over the Pittsbugh Pirates with a triple play. With Pirate runners on first and second after Michael Bowden walked a man and hit a batter, Gorkys Hernandez of the Pirates hit a line drive caught by shortstop Jose Iglesias. Iglesias flipped to second baseman Tug Hulett to double off the runner on second, but when Hulett threw to first, his throw went past first baseman Aaron Bates. Catcher Dusty Brown retrieved the overthrow and threw to second, where Hulett applied the tag to the runner attempting to advance.
The notable: Impressive afternoon for Red Sox pitching, beginning with Clay Buchholz, who threw three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while walking one and whiffing two. Boof Bonser gave up a bases-empty home run to Delwyn Young for Pittsburgh’s first run in the sixth, and Bowden, who walked three and hit a batter, struggled with his control. But Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and Brian Shouse all delivered scoreless innings. The Red Sox scored all of their runs in the seventh, Hulett knocking in a pair with a single and Brown delivering the other on a sacrifice fly, scoring Ryan Kalish, who had alertly moved up on a throw home.
Prospect update: The Sox followed the regularly scheduled festivities with a six-inning intrasquad game which featured a massive home run by catcher Luis Exposito, who took Casey Kelly deep. That was the only run allowed by Kelly, who gave up four hits while striking out five and walking none in three innings. Minor-leaguer Nate Spears, who was born in Fort Myers, hit a two-run home run off Ramon Ramirez to account for the other scoring.
Progress report: Catcher Jason Varitek is scheduled to make his first exhibition start (and appearance) Sunday against the Minnesota Twins in Hammond Stadium, where Josh Beckett is scheduled to start. Francona, asked if he wanted to reveal his Opening Day starter, said: “No, not really.’’ ... Mike Lowell is still on track to make his first start Monday. Francona told Pete Abraham of the Globe that Lowell will play first base.
Up next: Scott Atchison and Adam Mills are the pitchers listed to follow Beckett against the Twins, who have yet to sign catcher Joe Mauer to a contract extension. The closer the sides move toward Opening Day without a resolution, the more talk you’ll hear about the Twins deciding to deal him, up to now an unthinkable proposition.