Early run burst sends Twins past Pirates

Pittsburgh, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Trevor Plouffe's two-run shot capped a six-run second inning which lifted Minnesota over Pittsburgh by an 8-5 count in the opener of a two-game interleague set.

Joe Mauer knocked in three runs and Brian Dozier added a solo homer for the Twins, who have won three of their last four.

Ricky Nolasco (4-1) earned the win despite giving up 10 hits and four runs -- three earned -- over 5 2/3 innings. He did strike out eight and issued just one walk. Glen Perkins locked down the ninth for his 14th save.

"They scored one a bunch of times," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "That's a good sign, staying away from big innings."

Josh Harrison went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI for the Pirates, losers in five of their last six. Jung-Ho Kang posted three hits and an RBI, Neil Walker collected two hits and drove in a run, while Pedro Alvarez homered in defeat.

"Guys are battling their butts off, man. The work we've put in, it's gonna pay off," said Harrison. "Guys are workin'. Nobody's feelin' sorry for themselves. We're all out here workin."

Francisco Liriano (1-4) recorded only six outs, exiting after allowing seven runs on five hits with a pair of walks.

Dozier's solo shot in the first put the Twins on the board, and they picked up six more in the second.

They loaded the bases with two down on a single by Kurt Suzuki, walk to Aaron Hicks and Danny Santana hit-by-pitch, then Liriano uncorked one to score Suzuki, Mauer cleared the bases on a hit and took second on the throw ahead of Plouffe's two-run blast to left.

Jose Tabata's two-out hit with the bases loaded in the home half put the hosts on the board.

Shane Robinson's double-play grounder in the third brought home Minnesota's eighth run, then Alvarez went deep in the bottom portion.

Jung-Ho Kang scored Walker in the fifth with a groundout and Walker doubled home Harrison in the sixth and the Pirates were only behind by four.

Harrison brought in Starling Marte with one down in the seventh and it was an 8-5 game with runners on first and second, but Blaine Boyer induced a rally- killing double-play ball from Chris Stewart.

Boyer enjoyed a quiet eighth, then Perkins shook off a two-out base hit from Kang by striking out Alvarez looking to end the contest.

Game Notes

Dozier extended his hit streak to 10 games ... The Alvarez homer traveled an estimated 461 feet, landing in a boat docked in the Allegheny River ... Daryle Ward (2002) and Garrett Jones (2013) are the only other players to reach the water on the fly since PNC Park opened in 2001 ... Prior to the game, the Bucs selected the contract of Tabata from Triple-A Indianapolis, optioned pitcher Wilfredo Boscan to Indianapolis and transferred infielder Justin Sellers to the 60-day disabled list.