Minnesota's Randy Dobnak dominated in his homecoming, allowing three hits in six innings as the streaking Twins topped the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Wednesday night.
Dobnak, who grew up a half-hour south of PNC Park in the Pittsburgh suburb of South Park, didn't walk a batter and struck out just one. The 25-year-old relied on a heavy fastball the Pirates pounded into the ground. Pittsburgh managed just four balls out of the infield against Dobnak, who dropped his ERA to 0.60.
Marwin Gonzalez went 2 for 4 with two RBIs for the Twins. Max Kepler gave Minnesota some breathing room in the ninth with a three-run home run off Pirates' reliever Dovydas Neverauskas.
Pittsburgh's Trevor Williams (0-3) became the first Pirate this season to pitch seven innings. Williams allowed just one run, a flare to left field by Gonzalez in the second that scored Jake Cave. The ball was initially ruled foul, but that was overturned by replay, with Cave being awarded home because he was well past third by the time the ball fell in.
Williams struck out five against one walk and three hits, but Pittsburgh's overworked bullpen faltered in the ninth. The Pirates have dropped seven consecutive games, and their 2-10 record is the worst in baseball.
Minnesota improved to 10-2 following its sixth straight win, matching the best start in franchise history set by the 1930 Washington Senators.
A year after blasting their way to 101 wins and the AL Central title behind a staggering 307 home runs, the Twins are relying just as heavily on pitching and defense to get by in 2020. The work of Dobnak and three relievers dropped Minnesota's team ERA to 2.69, second-lowest in the American League behind Cleveland.
Facing the worst-hitting team in the National League helped. Seven of Pittsburgh's nine starters Wednesday entered the game hitting under .200 and the team's batting average dipped to a paltry .189.
Josh Bell went 3 for 4 and hit his second home run of the season, a two-run shot in the ninth, but the rest of the Pirates lineup went a combined 1 for 26.
The long list of Pittsburgh relievers who are dealing with an injury now includes Nick Burdi. The reliever's season is over after he reported right elbow problems after taking the loss in extra innings on Monday. Burdi — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 and missed most of 2019 while dealing with thoracic outlet syndrome — was filling in as closer while Keone Kela recovers from COVID-19. ... Right-hander Michael Feliz (right forearm strain) is also out for the year while Clay Holmes (forearm) and Kyle Crick (right shoulder strain) are out indefinitely.
Twins: Kenta Maeda (2-0, 1.64 ERA) will try to remain unbeaten since being acquired by Minnesota in the offseason. Maeda went 2-1 with a 4.42 ERA in three career appearances against the Pirates while playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pirates: Rookie JT Brubaker will make his first major league start. Brubaker has thrown five scoreless innings in relief this season.