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Pirates Hit 3 Home Runs, Hammer Twins 9-1

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(credit: Getty Images/Jared Wickerham)

(credit: Getty Images/Jared Wickerham)

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PITTSBURGH (AP) — James McDonald pitched his first career complete game, Garrett Jones hit one of Pittsburgh’s three home runs and the Pirates won for the fourth time in five games, 9-1 over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.

McDonald (6-3) continued his breakthrough season by allowing one run, six hits and no walks with five strikeouts, lowering his ERA to 2.19. He has allowed one run or fewer in nine of his 14 starts this season.

Jones had an RBI single in the first inning and a two-run homer that made it 8-1 in the seventh. Pedro Alvarez added a shot that traveled an estimated 435 feet to right-center two batters later. Rod Barajas had a two-run homer in the sixth.

Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen came up a home run short of the cycle, scoring two runs and driving in three.

The surging Pirates have won seven of their past eight series and four consecutive series at home. They moved within two games of first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.

Justin Morneau had two hits for the Twins, who have lost six of eight.

Winners of 10 of its past 12 at home, Pittsburgh rebounded from a loss Wednesday by pounding out 12 hits. Jones, Alvarez and Alex Presley all had two.

With two outs in the first, McCutchen tripled to right-center just past the diving Ben Revere. He scored when Jones followed with an infield single off Minnesota starter Liam Hendriks.

An inning later, McCutchen came up with the bases loaded and two outs and hit a similar hard, deep liner. This time, he pulled it to left for a three-run double.

Barajas snapped an 0-for-13 slump with his seventh homer that followed Alvarez’s leadoff single in the sixth.

That prompted Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire to lift Hendriks (0-4), who remained winless in 10 career starts. Hendriks was charged with six runs — three earned — and eight hits. He did not walk a batter and had three strikeouts.

Jones, a former Twin, homered for the first time since June 3 after McCutchen singled to lead off the seventh. Alvarez’s homer was his fifth in his past five games and team-high 13th this season.

Minnesota got its run in the fourth when Ryan Doumit’s two-out single scored Trevor Plouffe.

Notes: LHP Brian Duensing will start for the Twins on Saturday in Cincinnati. It will be his first start of the season after 30 relief appearances. He has 50 starts in his four-year career. … Minnesota C Joe Mauer (bruised right quad) was not in the lineup for the third straight game, although Gardenhire said he was available to pinch-hit. … Morneau stole second base in the sixth, his first since 2007. … Pittsburgh hosts Detroit to conclude its interleague play this weekend. The Tigers took two of three from the Pirates in Detroit last month. … The Twins travel to Cincinnati, where RHP Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.48) faces the Reds’ Homer Bailey (5-4, 4.03) in the opener Friday.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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