Liriano sharp, efficient for Pirates in 2-2 tie vs. Twins

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) Pittsburgh left-hander Francisco Liriano breezed through two innings on Friday, and the Pirates tied the Minnesota Twins 2-2 in nine innings.

Liriano struck out the first four batters he faced. Ryan Sweeney hit a soft liner to second baseman Josh Harrison and John Ryan Murphy grounded out.

Liriano, who likely will start on opening day, threw 23 pitches.

''I'm trying to work on everything now - fastball, changeup, slider,'' he said. ''Everything feels good.''

Harrison singled and scored on Starling Marte's two-out triple against Tommy Milone in the first.

The Twins' first hit was Eduardo Nunez's leadoff triple in the fourth off Neftali Feliz. Nunez scored on Kennys Vargas' single.

Gregory Polanco went 3 for 3 for Pittsburgh, and John Jaso went 2 for 2.

STARTING TIME

Twins: Milone gave up one run and four hits in two innings. He struck out three.

It was the first time Milone worked with Murphy, a catcher who was acquired in a November trade with the New York Yankees.

''He was calling pitches I would've called myself, so it was pretty seamless,'' Milone said. ''It's not that hard. If everything's working, I just go with what the catcher puts down.''

REUNION ON HOLD

Twins DH Byung Ho Park did not make the trip, so he wasn't able to catch up with Pirates 3B Jung Ho Kang. They were teammates with the Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization.

''I told (Park) I respect their friendship,'' Twins manager Paul Molitor said. ''We're playing (the Pirates) five times, so I didn't feel it was an urgent thing to get accomplished on our third day. They'll have their day down here, just not today.''

Kang is recovering from leg surgery and is not yet playing in games.

NEW POSITION

Twins: Danny Santana, who played center field and shortstop the past two seasons, made his first appearance at third base. If OF Byron Buxton breaks camp with the team, Santana's best chance to stick will be as a utility player.

''We told him it's going to be a busy camp for him,'' Molitor said. ''He's got to polish what he knows and learn what he doesn't. We're trying to expose him to a lot of positions and also give him a chance to do some center field work.''

Pirates: Sean Rodriguez, a utilityman who played mostly at first base last year, started at third. Rodriguez is the top replacement candidate if Kang begins the season on the disabled list.

''I'll do what I've got to do to be ready,'' Rodriguez said. ''They'll let me know if I need to stick at third more often. Right now, I'm moving around and I'm still cognizant that I might get more time at third.''

INJURY REPORT

Pirates: RHP Gerrit Cole, who was slowed at the start of camp by rib inflammation, threw his first round of live batting practice.

DAVIS ON LEAVE

Twins first base coach Butch Davis left the team to attend the funeral of his brother Michael in North Carolina.

''When you lose a family member unexpectedly, it's a hard thing,'' Molitor said. ''We're trying to show support the best way we can. He's where he should be right now, with him mom and his brothers. He's going to try to get back here Sunday night and get back to work on Monday.''

Triple-A Rochester manager Mike Quade filled in for Davis on Thursday and Friday and will do so again Saturday. Assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez will coach first base on Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana will start Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Pirates: Top prospect RHP Tyler Glasnow will pitch two innings on Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. The rest of the pitcher lineup will consist entirely of minor leaguers: RHP Jameson Taillon, LHP Steven Brault, RHP Chad Kuhl and RHP Trevor Williams.

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