LIVE › 8-9 a.m. Cover Your Assets
NEXT › 9:05 a.m. Gopher Hoops Weekly
10:05 a.m. Saturday SportsTalk
12:05 p.m. Money Talk with Josh Arnold
1:05 p.m. This Week in High School Sports
2:05 p.m. SportsCenter Saturday
Updated: April 18th, 2011 9:11pm
Twins Daily: Liriano battles, Butera drives in 3 as Twins win again

Twins Daily: Liriano battles, Butera drives in 3 as Twins win again

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
Email | Twitter
SportsWire Daily

Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports

Signup!

Francisco Liriano overcame control problems to take a shutout into the seventh inning and Drew Butera drove in a career-high three runs as the Minnesota Twins won Monday's series opener 5-3 in Baltimore.

The skinny

This time, Liriano battled through adversity -- at least until the seventh.

The left-hander threw 21 pitches in the first inning before leaving runners on second and third. He issued a walk in every inning from the second through the sixth but escaped each time, thanks in part to a pair of double plays.

The Orioles got the scoreboard in the seventh, when Adam Jones tattooed his first pitch over the left-field fence and Matt Wieters blasted a one-out homer to center field, trimming the Twins' lead to 3-2. Robert Andino followed that with a single, chasing Liriano, and reliever Jose Mijares advanced the potential tying run to second by plunking Nick Markakis before Jim Hoey came on and escaped the jam.

It still wasn't an efficient effort for Liriano, who repeatedly missed high and outside with his fastball and threw 51 strikes among his 94 pitches. But it was good enough for Liriano's first victory since last Sept. 14 -- snapping a streak of six consecutive losing decisions -- and the first of his career with more walks (five) than strikeouts (two).

Turning point

Hoey's first big-league appearance since Sept. 29, 2007, came in a tough spot: two on, two outs and a 3-2 lead against the team that traded him to the Twins in December.

The hard-throwing right-hander's first pitch was a splitter down the middle that crossed up catcher Drew Butera. But Hoey settled down after that, hitting 97 mph on the radar gun and getting Derrek Lee to fly out to center on a 1-2 fastball, ending the threat.

Hoey stayed on to work a 1-2-3 eighth, Butera singled home one of two Twins runs in the top of the ninth and Matt Capps gave up a solo homer to Luke Scott before wrapping up his second save in as many days.

Numbers game

2: Consecutive victories for the Twins, the last team in baseball to put together a winning streak.

53: Career ejections for Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was tossed by home-plate umpire Chris Guccione after a called third strike on Jason Kubel in the seventh inning.

4: Called third strikes against left-handed Twins hitters, all on pitches that appeared to be outside. Minutes after Gardenhire's ejection, Jim Thome vehemently protested another third-strike call, forcing base coaches Jerry White and Steve Liddle to intervene.

9: Home runs Liriano allowed in 2010, tying the lowest total among qualifying major-league starters.

4: Home runs Liriano has allowed through four starts this season.

1: Exceptional defensive play by SS Alexi Casilla, whose bare-handed pickup and sprawling throw put down Mark Reynolds to end the sixth inning.

Health watch

• 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (fractured fibula) had another X-ray, has begun walking in a pool and riding an exercise bike and remains on schedule, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters.

• C Joe Mauer (bilateral leg weakness, viral infection) attended a previously scheduled doctor's appointment in Baltimore and then returned to Minneapolis. He is eligible to come off the disabled list on April 28, but it's unclear if he'll be ready.

• 1B Justin Morneau (flu) sat out for a second consecutive day.

• RHP Kevin Slowey (shoulder strain) has thrown a bullpen session. He's eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday.

On deck

Carl Pavano (1-1, 3.60 earned-run average) has been stellar in his past two starts, allowing one run on eight hits with eight strikeouts and three walks in 16 innings. He'll get the ball on Tuesday (6:05 p.m., 1500 ESPN) against fellow right-hander Jake Arrieta (1-1, 7.04), a fifth-round pick in the 2007 draft who made his big-league debut last June. Arrieta, 25, allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings against the Twins last July 25. Pavano has thrown 48 2/3 innings against Baltimore, going 4-3 with a 2.96 ERA and 27 strikeouts.

Coming up

• Wednesday: at Baltimore, 6:05 p.m. RHP Nick Blackburn (1-2, 3.06) vs. LHP Zach Britton (2-1, 2.75).
• Thursday: at Baltimore, 6:05 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (0-2, 4.50) vs. RHP Jeremy Guthrie (1-2, 3.32).
• Friday: vs. Cleveland, 6:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (1-0, 3.60) vs. RHP Fausto Carmona (1-2, 4.74).

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
2127