FORT MYERS, Fla. – Ricky Nolasco survived giving up a hit in all three of his innings Tuesday, and Eduardo Escobar survived getting drilled by a wicked line drive.
But the Twins couldn't withstand a titanic home run by Anthony Garcia, and St. Louis walked away with a 5-3 victory over Minnesota at Hammond Stadium.
Nolasco, making his second appearance and first start of the spring, put the leadoff batter aboard twice but pitched out of trouble each time, thanks in part to a pair of double plays, one on a line drive and the other a strikeout/caught stealing. The Twins built a 2-0 lead behind him, one run scoring on a Joe Mauer double-play ball and the other scored by Mauer himself, on a Kennys Vargas sacrifice fly after Mauer doubled.
But the six relievers used by the Twins, five of them lefthanded, couldn't hold the lead, with the big blow coming against Logan Darnell. After Randal Grichuk doubled, Darnell stuck out two batters but made a mistake to Garcia. It landed on top of the boardwalk in left-center field, giving St. Louis a 3-2 lead the Twins never overcame.
They did add a run in the ninth on singles by Ryan Sweeney, John Hicks and Engelb Vielma, but the game ended with the bases loaded on a Reynaldo Rodriguez popup.
Escobar tripled in the eighth inning and was standing in foul territory about 80 feet from the plate when Rodriguez smashed a line drive down the line that Escobar couldn't avoid.
He collapsed to the ground and was removed from the game but reported afterward that he was fine — the ball hit his right forearm but did no serious damage.
The Twins lineup was made up mostly of veteran players, with the younger players sent to Dunedin to face Toronto in a split-squad game.