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Burnett And Worley Get Loose, Twins Beat Pirates

Vance Worley, Minnesota Twins
J. Meric/Getty Images

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) —After a few bumpy spring training outings, pitcher Vance Worley showed why he deserves to be the Minnesota Twins’ opening day starter.

Worley settled down after the first inning and rolled through five in a 7-4 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday.

Over his first five Grapefruit League outings, Worley had a 6.35 ERA, allowing 27 hits in 17 innings. On Wednesday, Worley held the Pirates to two runs on seven hits and struck out five.

Manager Ron Gardenhire announced after his outing, Worley will take the mound Monday against the Detroit Tigers in the season opener.

“I’m excited,” Worley said. “Especially after having the spring that I’ve had. I finally got the kinks out and threw the ball well today.”

The Pirates loaded the bases in the first inning with one out but scored just one run. In the third, Worley served up a solo homer to Pedro Alvarez.

“I just trusted my stuff,” Worley said. “I’ve been working on getting better extension on my throws and not trying to do too much.”

The Twins traded for Worley in November after he went 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA last season for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“Today was his best stuff,” Gardenhire said. “He had a nice breaking ball. He was sharp. The best we’ve seen. We want him to be that 200-inning guy and give us a chance. That’s what we got him for.”

Danny Ortiz hit a two-run homer and Doug Bernier had three hits for the Twins. Ortiz’s shot to right field off reliever Chris Leroux sparked a four-run eighth inning. Bernier opened the scoring in the second inning with an RBI double off right-hander A.J. Burnett.

Burnett, who will be the Pirates’ opening day starter, pitched three innings. He allowed two runs on four hits and struck out two.

It was the first time since March 9 that Burnett pitched in an “A” game. He opted to do much of his preparation this spring in minor league games. That allowed the Pirates to have younger pitchers competing for jobs pitch in the Grapefruit League games.

Alvarez had four hits and three RBIs. Starling Marte went 3 for 5 and has reached base safely in eight straight games.

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