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Thome homers to lead Twins to 5-4 win over Pirates

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Justin Morneau and Jim Thome returned to the lineup for the Minnesota Twins, each following four days of rest.

Thome didn't take long to shake off the rust.

He went 2 for 2 with his first home run in a Twins uniform and Minnesota defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 on Thursday.

Morneau, who like Thome was resting a sore back, went 0 for 3 with a strikeout, while Joe Mauer went 0 for 3, lowering his spring training batting average to .462.

Delwyn Young further solidified his chances at a bench role for the Pirates, hitting his fourth home run in five games with a two-run shot off Twins reliever Clay Condrey in the sixth inning.

Condrey, whose spring ERA inflated to 10.80, also gave up a solo homer to Jeff Clement in the sixth. Jason Jaramillo added a solo shot off Twins starter Carl Pavano in the third inning for Pittsburgh.

Pavano struck out two, walked none and gave up one hit in five innings.

A year ago at this time, Pavano said he was still in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right throwing elbow in 2007.

"Last year, I was feeling through my body again," said the 34-year-old Pavano, who joined the Twins in an Aug. 7 trade with the Cleveland Indians.

Pavano only started seven big-league games for the Yankees in 2008, going 4-2 with a 5.77 ERA. Last season, Pavano went 9-8 with a 5.37 ERA in 21 starts for the Indians. He improved almost immediately after the trade, going 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA in 12 starts for the Twins.

"I was just learning my mechanics all over again, learning my routine, learning not to do too much," Pavano said. "This year, I feel like I'm back to the point where I can push my body a little more. I'm throwing more in the pen. I'm doing more long toss. I feel a lot more athletic."

Pavano lowered his spring training ERA from 3.38 to 2.77. He has struck out eight batters in 13 innings and given up four runs with just the one homer.

"I gave up a lot of multi-run homers last year," Pavano said. "That hurt me. I think I'm stronger this year, and I'll be able to finish games better."

Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson liked what he saw out of Pavano on Thursday.

"He moved the ball around," Anderson said. "He used all of his pitches. He feels confident with his delivery."

Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf also felt confident despite giving up two runs, including Thome's homer, in four innings. He struck out two and walked none, giving up four hits.

"I feel like I was able to be into the game more in terms of reading hitters' swings, picking my pitches," Ohlendorf said. "I felt really good about today. My changeup was a really good secondary pitch. My sinker and changeup were really good."

Brendan Harris, hoping to land a starting spot at third base, hit a solo home run in the seventh inning off Pirates reliever Jack Taschner.

Luke Hughes drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for the Twins.

NOTES: Pirates closer Octavio Dotel, recovering from a strained left oblique muscle, pitched in an intrasquad game Thursday and will return to action Sunday. ... The Twins optioned right-handed pitchers Rob Delaney and Alex Burnett to Triple-A Rochester. Burnett struck out one and pitched a scoreless inning Thursday before his demotion.