Perez, Cahill lead Pirates over Twins 6-2

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Pittsburgh Pirates’ Michael Perez runs the bases and signals to his bench on a solo home run against the Minnesota Twins in the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 24, 2021, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Michael Perez had three hits and three RBIs, helping Trevor Cahill and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Saturday.

Cahill (1-2) permitted one run and two hits in six innings. The right-hander retired the Twins in order in five of his innings.

It was Cahill’s longest outing since he also worked six innings for the Angels at Baltimore on May 10, 2019. It also was his first win for the Pirates after two rough starts that left him with a 9.69 ERA going into the game.

“This guy’s a veteran guy — he understands how to pitch, he understands how to use his stuff,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “Obviously today he had much better feel for his breaking ball and was able to execute it.”

Minnesota lost for the 10th time in 12 games. Michael Pineda (1-1) allowed five runs, four earned, and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. Jake Cave had two of the Twins’ three hits.

Minnesota continues to sputter at the plate. In the last five games, the Twins have been shut out twice and held to two runs twice.

“There have been some inconsistencies, and there are some days where a group of guys are swinging it well,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “And we haven’t linked it up. We haven’t found a way to put it all together with really good at-bats on a daily basis.”

The Pirates jumped on Pineda for three runs in the second. With one out, Erik González singled and advanced to third when Gregory Polanco dumped a shift-beating pop fly into short left for a double.

“Polanco put a ball in play,” Shelton said. “Gonzo put a ball in play. Maybe they weren’t hit really hard. They were well-placed and we were able to build off it and capitalize on it.”

Todd Frazier drove in a run on a fielder’s choice grounder that Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco threw away for an error. Perez then made it 3-0 with a two-run double.

The damage could have been worse, but Byron Buxton made a diving catch in left-center to rob Kevin Newman of a hit.

The Twins got one back in the bottom of the second on Cave’s RBI double, but they left the bases loaded.

Perez and Newman hit back-to-back homers to start the fifth, and that was more than enough for Cahill and Pittsburgh’s bullpen.

On his home run, Perez was behind in the count and looking for an off-speed pitch from Pineda, but instead connected on a fastball that caught too much of the plate.

“When I was watching (Pineda’s) videos I noticed that on a 1-2 or 0-2 count he usually would go to a slider,” Perez said through a translator. “However, when I saw that fastball come in it just looked pretty, and I took a good swing at it.”

HAVE ARM, WILL TRAVEL

The 33-year-old Cahill finalized a $1.5 million, one-year contract with Pittsburgh on March 12. The matchup with the Twins was his fourth start with his ninth big league team.

He was tagged for six earned runs and eight hits in four innings during a 7-1 loss at Milwaukee last weekend.

“I’m harder on myself than anybody,” Cahill said. “I was definitely with my back against the wall a little bit after I had two pretty bad outings, but I don’t really let it change me a whole lot. I’ve had a kind of rocky, up-and-down career so I know what I’m doing out there.”

BIG SPOT

The Twins managed to put together a threat in the eighth after Cave doubled and moved to third when left fielder Phillip Evans dropped Luis Arraez’s fly ball.

Kyle Crick came in to face Josh Donaldson, with Nelson Cruz on deck. He retired Donaldson on a fly ball that scored Cave from third. Then he struck out Cruz to end the threat.

“That’s a 6-2 game with a guy that’s won an MVP and a guy that’s probably been the best designated hitter in baseball the last 10 years,” Shelton said. “Those are big outs. To come in there and do that was outstanding.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: LHP Caleb Thielbar was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list and RHP Luke Farrell was returned to the team’s alternate training site. Thielbar last pitched on April 16.

UP NEXT

Pirates: Shelton has not yet named a starter for Sunday afternoon’s series finale.

Twins: RHP Matt Shoemaker (1-1, 6.28 ERA) will face the Pirates for the first time in his career.

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