Cutch homers in dominant day, but Bucs fall late
MVP goes 3-for-3, increases Spring Training average to .727
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Chris Colabello came through in the clutch on Friday, capping the Twins' comeback from an early five-run deficit with a ninth-inning RBI single to help ensure a 6-5 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field. The first baseman went 3-for-3 with two runs after entering the game for Joe Mauer.
The win ended the Bucs' four-game streak and dropped their record to a still-impressive 6-2-1 this spring. The Twins are now 5-3.
Andrew McCutchen, playing for only the second time in a week, did a week's worth of hitting on Friday, going 3-for-3 with a two-run homer.
Travis Snider's bases-loaded single in the first, his fifth consecutive hit, gave the Pirates a 2-0 lead, and Andrew Lambo's RBI single made it a three-run inning.
McCutchen, the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award winner, connected for his first homer of the spring off Twins starter Vance Worley in the second. McCutchen also doubled in the first and singled in the fourth. He is 8-for-11 this spring.
Worley was removed with one out in that second inning, having allowed seven hits and five runs.
The Twins, assisted by two errors by Pirates shortstop Robert Andino, nailed top Pirates pitching prospect Jameson Taillon with three runs in the seventh, with RBIs by Max Kepler on a force-play grounder and by Danny Santana on a double. Only one of those runs was earned off Taillon, who worked two-thirds of an inning.
Brandon Waring drove in Colabello with a single in the Twins' eighth, cutting the deficit to one run, and Kepler came through with a base knock to tie the ballgame.
As manager Clint Hurdle has used his veterans sparingly early this spring, catcher Russell Martin and McCutchen have both played in only four of the Pirates nine exhibitions and saw their first action since Monday. They did not appear to miss the at-bats, combining to go 5-for-6 and score four runs.
Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez blanked Minnesota on two hits for two innings, the sixth consecutive scoreless start by the Pirates, covering 12 innings.
Rodriguez hasn't allowed a run in his two starts -- with four strikeouts in three innings -- as he continues to work his way back from a forearm strain that shelved him for the final four months of the 2013 season.
"I'm throwing everything and not feeling anything [bad]," said Rodriguez, who threw more curveballs this time out. "I was missing my spot with the curve early, so I wanted to keep throwing it until I could get it over for a strike."
Pirates Up Next: Opening Day starter Francisco Liriano is expected to stretch out to three innings as the Bucs visit Port Charlotte to meet the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. ET game. Side-arming righty reliever Cody Eppley, who has pitched shutout ball in his first three appearances, is one of the pitchers due to take the mound for the Pirates.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.