Mauer returns but Lehmann lifts Twins to win

Mauer returns but Lehmann lifts Twins to win

Mauer returns but Lehmann lifts Twins to win
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were in the same lineup on Wednesday for the first time since July 7, and two pitches into his first at-bat of the spring, Mauer singled right back up the middle.

Mauer, who's taken it slow after offseason surgery on his left knee, finished 1-for-3 in his first Grapefruit League game of the season, a 4-3 Twins walk-off win over the Mets at Hammond Stadium.

Mauer batted third in front of Morneau, who was also late to game action this spring because of a concussion he suffered that day in July. Morneau finished 0-for-3.

Both teams received shaky starting pitching, and a 1-0 Mets lead, accrued in the top of the third, turned into a 3-2 Twins lead by the end of the fourth.

Making his fourth start of the spring, the Mets' Mike Pelfrey walked none, but yielded nine hits while striking out just one, while going five innings. The Twins' Brian Duensing allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits in four innings. He struck out three and walked one.

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Luis Castillo's two-out single to right in the third brought home Jose Reyes for the game's first run. In the thick of the competition for the Mets' second-base job, Castillo struck out looking in his first at-bat and had a hard grounder up the middle go off his glove in the bottom of the fourth. The latter, a difficult play, contributed to a two-run inning for the Twins.

Pelfrey worked out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the second inning on a double-play ball from Alexi Casilla, then gave up a leadoff homer to Denard Span two pitches into the third inning. Hit off the foul pole in right, Span's blast tied the game at 1.

Three consecutive singles to start the fourth put the Mets up 2-1, but that rally was answered by the Twins in the bottom half, on a Steve Holm RBI single and a Casilla sacrifice fly.

Minnesota led from the fifth through the eighth innings, but the Mets briefly tied it in the eighth, when a Kirk Nieuwenhuis groundout scored Brad Emaus with the tying run. Emaus had led off the inning with a double against Twins lefty Phil Dumatrait.

The Twins doubled their way to a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. Third baseman Matthew Brown led off the inning with a double against Mets righty Ryota Igarashi, and catcher Danny Lehmann followed with another double to send Twins' fans home happy.

The bottom of the third was tricky for Mets third baseman David Wright, who took an error while essentially playing shortstop, as the Mets had shifted to the right with Mauer at the plate. A couple of foul popups afterward, one of which was caught, made for long runs for Wright and a near collision with Jason Bay.

The Mets' Nos. 1-7 hitters all collected hits Wednesday. In particular, Jose Reyes had a great game, as he reached base in all three of his plate appearances, scored a run, and added a stolen base. He was thrown out in another attempt to steal, giving him his one blemish for the afternoon. For the Twins, Holm, Jason Kubel and Danny Valencia each had multi-hit games.

Up next for the Mets: Jonathon Niese will start against the Red Sox, on Thursday in a 1:05 p.m. EST affair across town in Fort Myers. Mike O'Connor, Taylor Tankersley, Bobby Parnell, Pedro Beato, Taylor Buchholz and Manny Acosta are also scheduled to pitch. Mets regulars David Wright, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay and Angel Pagan were in Fort Myers Wednesday, but are expected to return to Port St. Lucie, Fla., before Thursday's game and won't play.

Up next for the Twins: Jeff Manship takes the hill in a 1:05 p.m. EST road game against Detroit in Lakeland, Fla. Matt Capps, Pat Neshek, Dusty Hughes, Kyle Waldrop and Carlos Gutierrez will also take the ball for Minnesota. Carl Pavano will pitch on Thursday as well, but in a Minor League game at home.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.