Twins 4, Pirates 4(10)

BY foxsports • April 3, 2009

Zach Duke pitched five shutout innings for Pittsburgh and Minnesota's Kevin Slowey also did well in his final spring start as the Pirates and Twins played to a 4-4 tie in 10 innings on Friday. Duke gave up four hits and struck out two. The Twins scored four times against the Pirates' bullpen, three on Brian Buscher's homer. Slowey finished up an encouraging spring, giving up three hits in five innings while lowering his ERA to 2.13. Adam LaRoche homered off him. Both teams used minor leaguers during the final three innings of what became the Pirates' third tie of the spring and Minnesota's first. Duke, coming off a 5-14 season, finished spring training with a 3.86 ERA despite giving up eight runs and nine hits in 3 1-3 innings Sunday against the Yankees. "It's exactly the way you want to the end the spring, on a very positive note," Duke said. "I obviously wasn't so happy with my last start against the Yankees, so I wanted to into the season feeling good." Duke is 18-37 since going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA as a rookie in 2005, and this season is pivotal to him if he is to stay in the rotation. "This is the best shape I've been in for a while and I really felt the difference from the work I did in the offseason," he said. "I felt strong from start to finish. I feel like is the best I've thrown in a couple of years. I feel like my old self now and I'm really looking forward to getting started on the season. I have a good feeling about this year." Buscher homered in the seventh off Donnie Veal. Sean Burnett pitched 1 2-3 scoreless relief innings for Pittsburgh after Veal was lifted. Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Anthony Slama pitched a shutout inning each for Minnesota. The Twins went ahead 4-3 in the top of the 10th on Joe Benson's run-scoring single off Juan Mateo. The Pirates tied it on Jamie Romak's RBI single off the top of the left-field wall against Tim Lahey. The Pirates and Twins, the final two spring training teams left on Florida's Gulf Coast, play again Saturday in Fort Myers before both depart for their season openers. The Twins open the season at home Monday against Seattle and the Pirates play that day in St. Louis. The Pirates averaged 4,590 at McKechnie Field this spring, down from 5,404 a year ago when they played four fewer games there.

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