Pittsburgh, PA – Josh Willingham's solo home run in the eighth helped the Minnesota Twins edge the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1, in the second of a three-game interleague set from PNC Park.
Willilngham also doubled and scored twice, while Trevor Plouffe drove in the other run for the Twins, who had dropped five of six coming into the contest.
Rod Barajas drove in the lone run of the game for the Pirates, who had won their previous three games.
Both starters pitched well, but didn't factor into the decision. Francisco Liriano went 6 2/3 innings for the Twins and gave up just one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts while Erik Bedard had similar numbers over six innings with a run on four hits, two walks and seven strikeouts for Pittsburgh.
"It was a good step forward, but I'm disappointed we didn't win," said Bedard. "We tried our best and we'll get them tomorrow."
Jared Burton (1-1) got the win for pitching 1 1/3 scoreless relief innings while Jason Grilli (1-2) was tagged with the loss.
The Twins jumped on top in the first inning with a two-out rally. Willingham kept the inning alive with a double and Justin Morneau walked. Plouffe then singled home Willingham before Jamey Carroll lined out with the bases loaded.
Pittsburgh stranded men at first and second in the sixth inning, but was able to get on the board in the seventh.
With one out, Pedro Alvarez was hit by a pitch and Clint Barmes singled. After Michael McKenry walked to load the bases, Barajas followed with a shot to center. Denard Span made a beautiful diving grab to prevent a hit, but it scored Alvarez to tie the game. Burton then took the mound and got Jose Tabata to ground out.
The game didn't stay tied for very long, though, as Willingham homered with one out in the eighth to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.
"Willingham has been so good for us this year," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's the one guy who has really been swinging all year. He can juice the baseball or he can pull it."
Burton worked around a one-out single in the eighth, while Glen Perkins got the final three outs of the ninth after walking Pedro Alvarez for his first save of the season.
Pittsburgh first baseman Casey McGehee went 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to eight games...Plouffe is 24-for-61 with 17 RBI over 16 games in June...Pittsburgh had won five straight at home...The Pirates went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.