Twins 2, Braves 0

Brandon Beachy escaped jams in his final spring start with the

same tenacity he showed to claim a spot in the Atlanta Braves’

rotation.

Beachy stranded six baserunners in four scoreless innings and

Scott Baker was just as strong for the Minnesota Twins in their 2-0

win over the Braves on Wednesday.

Beachy gave up five hits and no walks. He overcame errors by his

defense in the first and fourth innings. He left the bases loaded

in the fourth when he struck out Alexi Casilla.

”We got him in some jams, but the guy, he’s unflappable,

really,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”He got himself out and

that’s what he’s been doing.”

The 24-year-old Beachy posted a 0.90 ERA for the spring to beat

out Mike Minor and Rodrigo Lopez for the fifth spot in the Braves’

rotation. He was 0-2 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts in his debut

in the major leagues late last season.

”I can’t wait to win,” Beachy said. ”I want to have a number

other than zero next to my name.”

Many observers considered Minor, who also posted a strong 0.90

ERA this spring, the favorite in the spring competition because he

would have given the rotation its first left-hander. Instead,

Beachy is joining Derek Lowe, Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson and Jair

Jurrjens in the rotation.

”Man, oh man, knock on wood, he was good,” Gonzalez said of

Beachy. ”He’s a good guy to cheer for.

”He’s got good command of all his pitches and throws them for

strikes. He does everything well, from holding runners to fielding

his position to handling the bat. He throws strikes. The whole

package. Not that the other guys don’t, but this guy’s stuff really

stands out.”

Lowe will start in Thursday’s opener at Washington.

The Twins scored two runs in the eighth off Lopez. Jason Kubel

drove in Jason Repko with a double. Kubel scored on Brian

Dinkelman’s single.

Baker gave up three hits with a walk in five innings.

”Even though you’re just going out there and you’re working on

certain things you might not necessarily do in a normal game

circumstance, it still feels good to go out there and get some

decent results,” Baker said.

Lopez, who is headed for Triple-A Gwinnett, pitched five

innings, giving up three hits and two runs.

Minnesota’s starting pitchers combined to allow four hits in

nine scoreless innings in the two exhibition games in Atlanta. Nick

Blackburn gave up one hit with a walk in four innings in Tuesday

night’s 4-2 loss to the Braves.

”There was some pretty good pitching going on,” said Twins

manager Ron Gardenhire. ”I think both teams kind of rely on

that.”

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau was 0 for 3, leaving his

batting average at .152 for the spring.

Gardenhire said the good news is Morneau and other key players

are healthy.

Morneau is expected to start in Friday’s opener at Toronto in

his return from a concussion. Joe Mauer is back after minor surgery

on his left knee in December. Joe Nathan, who had 47 saves in 2009,

is returning from major elbow surgery.

”You’d like to start and finish with your core group,”

Gardenhire said. ”That’s always a nice thing, to be able to do

that.”

Minnesota finished the spring 20-12. Atlanta was 17-13.

NOTES: OF Denard Span had two hits to finish the spring hitting

.355 for Minnesota. … Jurrjens (sore right ribcage) is scheduled

to throw in the bullpen on Thursday in Washington. Gonzalez said

he’ll confer with general manager Frank Wren and the team’s

trainers after the session. Gonzalez said Jurrjens could need a

minor league rehab start. … Braves OF Joe Mather cleared waivers

and was sent to Triple-A Gwinnett.