Brians strong, with seven combined RBIs in win

Brians strong, with seven combined RBIs in win

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Brian-squared was "two" much for James McDonald and the Pirates on Thursday.

Brian Dinkelman and Brian Dozier each hit a two-run homer and combined to drive in seven runs, and the Twins drubbed the Bucs, 11-6, in exhibition baseball.

Left-hander Matt Maloney held the Pirates to four hits, including Neil Walker's RBI single in the first, through three innings for the victory, his second of the spring.

"I felt good," Maloney said. "I took it like a bullpen outing. I went out there, like, five or 10 minutes before the game started and threw off the mound. I felt good. I got a lot of ground balls, which I was happy with."

Minnesota took advantage of the control problems of Pirates starter McDonald, who issued seven walks in 3 2/3 innings. He also gave up seven hits and 10 runs.

"Sometimes these days just happen," McDonald said. "I'm lucky it was Spring Training, and not September, or even next week. I left balls up in the zone, didn't have any of my good stuff. ... It was just a bad day for me."

The Twins cashed in McDonald's first three walks with a first-inning run on Danny Valencia's RBI infield grounder. Dinkelman followed walk No. 4 with a two-run homer in the second for a two-run lead.

Dozier's homer triggered a seven-run fourth, which also featured Dinkelman's two-run single. Dozier also singled, off reliever Daniel McCutchen, for the inning's final run.

Pittsburgh third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who has struggled all spring and entered the game with one hit in his last 21 at-bats, went 2-for-4 with a double and a single. It was his second two-hit game of the spring, the first coming on March 7.

Up next: The Twins have split-squad action on Friday, as they host the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium and travel to Dunedin to play the Blue Jays. Both games start at 12:05 p.m. CT. Right-hander Nick Blackburn starts against Boston, and fellow righty Liam Hendriks starts against Toronto. Outfielder Trevor Plouffe is set to play in a Grapefruit League game -- manager Ron Gardenhire did not specify which one -- for the first time since straining his right hamstring on March 18.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.