Twins-Pirates Preview

The Minnesota Twins own the most wins in baseball over left-handed starters, though they have never faced the Pittsburgh Pirates' Jeff Locke.

Locke has excelled in interleague play and will try to help the Pirates split this two-game home series Wednesday night.

Minnesota (22-17) built a 7-0 lead in two innings against former Twins starter Francisco Liriano to post an 8-5 victory Tuesday. The Twins, who entered the series third in the majors with a .288 average against southpaws, improved to an AL-best 12-5 against left-handed starters.

Next up is Locke (2-2, 5.40 ERA), who is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in six interleague starts. The only Minnesota hitters he has faced are Shane Robinson (0 for 6 against him) and Torii Hunter (1 for 2).

Locke went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts against Milwaukee to begin 2015 before going 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA in his next five. He matched his shortest outing of the year when he gave up five runs in 3 2-3 innings in Friday's 11-10, 12-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs.

Brian Dozier is batting .342 during a 10-game hitting streak and homered in the first inning Tuesday, though it was his play on the basepaths in the next inning that highlighted the win. Dozier scored all the way from first base on Joe Mauer's three-run single after left fielder Starling Marte was late getting to the ball.

''How about that? A three-run single,'' Mauer said with a grin. ''That was a great piece of baserunning by (Dozier).''

The early seven-run deficit proved to be too much for Pittsburgh, which has lost five of six.

"We've got more guts than good right now," manager Clint Hurdle told MLB's official site. "We battle. We're going to fight you."

Pittsburgh (18-21) outhit Minnesota 13-8 and got a 461-foot home run from Pedro Alvarez that landed in a boat docked along the Allegheny River beyond the right-field stands. Alvarez became the third player to reach the water on the fly since PNC Park opened in 2001.

Rookie Jung Ho Kang is 7 for 12 in his last three games while Josh Harrison is 15 for 29 over a seven-game hitting streak.

The Twins had a five-game win streak in starts by Mike Pelfrey (3-1, 3.23) end Thursday when he surrendered five runs and 10 hits over 4 2-3 innings in a 13-1 loss at Detroit. He was 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his previous five outings.

The right-hander went 3-2 with a 4.78 ERA in six starts against Pittsburgh between 2008-11 with the New York Mets. Andrew McCutchen has enjoyed the most success among Pirates hitters by going 6 for 12 against him.

Neil Walker is 3 for 14 with a homer, Jose Tabata is 1 for 10 and Francisco Cervelli is 1 for 8 in this matchup.

It's unclear if two of those players will be in the Pirates' lineup. Cervelli was removed at the end of the fifth inning for what the team said were ''precautionary reasons'' after taking a foul tip off his mask earlier in the game. Tabata made his season debut Tuesday with a pinch-hit infield single after having his contract purchased from the minors before the game.

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