The Pirates coaching staff asked starting pitcher Edinson Volquez Monday night if he felt up to going back out for the eighth inning.

“I’m ready go to,” Volquez said, before joking, “I’m really fresh. I only threw 64 pitches last time.

Volquez recovered from a horrible start in his previous game to finish eight innings, Pedro Alvarez hit a three-run homer and the Pirates beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-1, at Tropicana Field. The Pirates won their third game in a row and fourth of their past five to even their record at 38-38. Volquez allowed one run on five hits.

His eight innings pitched represented his longest outing of the season and the most innings he has pitched in one game since he threw a complete-game one-hitter against the Houston Astros July 19, 2012, while pitching for the San Diego Padres.

“The curveball played, the changeup had good sink to it, but it all started with his fastball command,” manager Clint Hurdle said.

Volquez (5-6) had allowed eight runs and six hits and three walks in 21⁄3 innings in his previous outing.

“Last time, I was kind of hurrying a little bit to the plate,” he said. “I talked to [pitching coach] Ray [Searage], and we watched the video and we saw it.”

Volquez said he didn’t change his routine between starts and credited his defense, which recorded 10 ground-ball outs and three inning-ending double plays.

“I was able to throw all fastballs down in the bottom of the strike zone,” he said.

Volquez allowed a run in the first but gave up only three hits after that, one a bunt single, and none in his final four innings.

“He just stayed focus and made pitches from that point on,” Hurdle said. “He didn’t back away, he pitched with confidence and he pitched with intent.”