Restovich's grand slam lifts Twins
By Alan Robinson
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Twins' Johan Santana and the Pirates' Kris Benson are counted on to be No. 2 starters. Neither looks ready.
Santana allowed four runs in the first inning Monday, while Benson frustrated the Pirates by giving the lead right back on a windy day in which the Twins scored seven runs in the final two innings to beat Pittsburgh 11-7.
Michael Restovich hit a grand slam in a five-run Minnesota ninth, an inning after Michael Cuddyer hit a go-ahead two-run shot, and Luis Rivas added four hits and two RBIs for Minnesota. Bobby Hill homered and had two hits for Pittsburgh.
Hill's two-run shot came in the first against Santana, who has surrendered 10 runs and 16 hits in 11 innings (8.18 ERA). He lasted three innings Monday, giving up six hits, walking two and striking out none.
"He was scuffling out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's having a little bit of a hard time right now. He'll eventually find his location, but it takes time."
Time is an asset the Pirates no longer have with Benson, who hasn't pitched a full season in the majors since 2000.
Bothered by elbow and shoulder injuries, the right-hander is in the final year of his contract and probably needs to have a breakthrough year to be offered another multiyear deal.
That's why manager Lloyd McClendon said Benson can't afford to be as careless as he was in the second inning, when Santana's two-out single led to Rivas' two-run single and a 4-all tie. Santana was batting only because the game was played in an NL team's park and no designated hitter was used.
"Those are the kind of mistakes that we just can't have going down the stretch (of spring training)," McClendon said.
Benson finished with three scoreless innings, but yielded four runs and four hits in his shaky first two innings.
The Pirates' relievers finished as poorly as Benson started. Left-hander Joe Beimel (lower back spasms) made his first appearance since March 10, yielding four hits -- highlighted by Cuddyer's two-run drive -- in the eighth. Beimel's ERA climbed to 13.50.
Left-hander Mark Guthrie was worked over for five runs in the ninth, raising his ERA to 18.47.
Twins reliever Joe Nathan got the victory despite giving up two runs and three hits in his only inning.