Twins hand Pirates first loss with 7-3 victory
By Will Graves
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Brian Dozier homered for the third straight game, Miguel Sano drove in a pair of runs and the Minnesota Twins handed the Pittsburgh Pirates their first loss of the season with a 7-3 victory at frigid PNC Park on Wednesday night.
Dozier hit a drive off the top of the left-field wall in the third inning for his fourth home run in four days. Sano finished 3 for 5 and started Minnesota’s four-run rally in the sixth with an RBI single. He added another run-scoring single in the seventh. Eduardo Escobar also drove in two runs for the Twins.
Taylor Rogers (1-0) got two outs in the fifth to pick up the win.
Josh Bell hit a 432-foot home run through the snow flurries in the first inning for Pittsburgh. Corey Dickerson added two hits for the Pirates, but Pittsburgh’s attempt to start 5-0 for the first time since 1983 ended when the Twins jumped on Ivan Nova (0-1) and the bullpen in the sixth.
The Pirates were the last unbeaten team in the majors thanks to solid starting pitching and enough offense to compensate for a bullpen that remains very much a work in progress.
The bullpen’s shortcomings finally became too much for Pittsburgh in the sixth when a 3-2 lead vanished. Dozier led off with a walk and moved to third when Nova and Bell, playing first base, let Eddie Rosario’s popup drop in front of them after the ball hung up in the swirling winds.
Dozier tied it on a sharp single to center. Logan Morrison followed with an RBI double to chase Nova. Dovydas Neverauskas gave up RBI doubles to Escobar and Byron Buxton that put Minnesota up 6-3.
Nova allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings with one walk and three strikeouts and has a 6.10 ERA through his first two starts.
Jake Odorizzi tossed six shutout innings last week against Baltimore but lasted just 4 1/3 innings against the Pirates, giving up three runs and five hits with three walks and just two strikeouts.
The temperature at first pitch was 37 degrees, with wind chills in the 20s and snow flurries off and on throughout the night. Wintry weather has been commonplace for Pittsburgh during the opening week of the season. All five Pirates games have been 40 degrees or cooler at game time.
Pirates: SS Jordy Mercer took some grounders and swung the bat but was held out of the starting lineup to give the swelling on his right pinkie time to subside. Mercer injured the finger while diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt Monday.
Twins: Open their ninth season at Target Field on Thursday when Seattle visits. Kyle Gibson will start for Minnesota. Gibson threw six shutout innings in his 2018 debut last week against Baltimore.
Pirates: Steven Brault gets the spot start in place of injured Joe Musgrove when Pittsburgh opens a four-game set against Cincinnati on Thursday. Brault went 1-0 with a 4.67 ERA in 11 appearances last season, including four starts.