PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pedro Alvarez hit a majestic home run that wound up landing in a boat docked along the Allegheny River beyond the right-field stands at PNC Park.
Yet the Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman couldn’t enjoy it as his team fell behind by seven runs in the second inning and lost 8-5 to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday for its fifth defeat in six games.
“It’s nice to put a good swing on the ball but losing kind of trumps everything,” Alvarez said.
His 461-foot blast was his seventh of the season. Alvarez joined Houston’s Daryle Ward (2002) and Pittsburgh’s Garrett Jones (2013) as the only players to hit balls on the fly into the river since PNC Park opened in 2001.
Francisco Liriano (1-4) gave up a solo home run to Brian Dozier in the first inning and a two-run shot to Trevor Plouffe that capped a six-run second as he lost his third straight starts. Liriano gave up seven runs and five hits in two innings against the Twins, the team he played with for eight seasons from 2005-12 to begin his career.
“Command was an issue,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “These guys pour themselves into everything they do for the four days (between starts) and it’s hard to have to go up to a guy and pull him after two innings.”
Dozier, who has a 10-game hitting streak, also scored all the way from first base on Joe Mauer’s three-run single during a six-run second inning as the Twins built an early 7-0 lead.
Left fielder Starling Marte was late getting to the ball that dropped in short left-center field and Dozier raced home all the way from first base and beat a throw that was well off target.
“How about that? A three-run single,” Mauer said with a grin. “That was a great piece of baserunning by (Dozier).”
Josh Harrison and rookie Jung Ho Kang each had three hits of the Pirates’ 13 hits while Neil Walker and Alvarez each had two.
Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Aaron Hicks each had two hits for the Twins, who won for the third time in four games.
Ricky Nolasco (4-1) made it through 5 1-3 shaky innings to win his fourth straight start since being on the disabled list with elbow inflammation. He gave up four runs — three earned — and 10 hits and has yet to pitch into the sixth inning in any of his five starts this season.
Glen Perkins recorded his 14th save in as many opportunities by pitching a perfect ninth inning.
Dropped from the 40-man roster last October, outfielder Jose Tabata’s contract was selected by the Pirates from Indianapolis on Tuesday, and right-hander Wilfredo Boscan was optioned to the Triple-A team.
Tabata, who has a $4 million salary and is in the fifth year of a six-year, $15 million contract, had a pinch-hit RBI single in the third inning. He was hitting .352 with no homers and four RBIs in 28 games at Indianapolis, including .438 in his last 14 games.
Infielder Justin Sellers was transferred from the 60-day disabled list from the 15-day DL to open a spot on the 40-man for Tabata.
Twins: RHP Casey Fien (right shoulder soreness) will throw a bullpen Wednesday and, if all goes well, be sent out on a rehab assignment. … LF Oswaldo Arcia (strained left hip flexor) could be ready to begin a rehab assignment by the end of the week.
Pirates: C Francisco Cervelli was removed at the end of the fifth inning for what the team said were “precautionary reasons” after taking a foul tip off his mask earlier in the game. … RHP Charlie Morton (right hip surgery) made what was expected to be the last of his three rehab starts Tuesday night, pitching 6 1-3 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis and allowing two runs and two hits with four walks and nine strikeouts against Pawtucket in the International League.
Twins: RHP Mike Pelfrey (3-1) looks to bounce back from his first loss of the season in which he gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings to Detroit.
Pirates: LHP Jeff Locke (2-2) has never faced Minnesota but is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in six career interleague starts.
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