FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Derek Lowe pitched two perfect innings
for Boston in a 5-3 victory over Minnesota that made Terry
Francona's spring debut as Red Sox manager a successful one.
Francona, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997
through 2000, is succeeding Grady Little on the Red Sox bench.
Lowe threw 13 of his 17 pitches for strikes in a sign of
progress toward a better start to this season than the one before.
In 2003, Lowe missed a month of offseason workouts because of a
procedure to remove cancerous tissue from his nose, struggled in
spring training and had a 6.53 ERA in his first eight
"I feel I've given myself a better opportunity, especially in
the beginning of the season, to help this team win," Lowe said.
An error by Twins third baseman Michael Cuddyer and a two-out,
bases-loaded infield single by Jeremy Owens gave the Red Sox a 4-3
lead off Kevin Tolar in the eighth. Boston's Andy Dominique
homered, and Colter Bean got the victory.
Luis Rivas hit a two-run double in the third inning and Gabby
Torres homered in the seventh for two-time defending AL Central
Twins starter Kyle Lohse, a 14-game winner last season whose
contract was renewed Thursday, pitched two scoreless innings.
Lohse's contract was renewed after he and the team failed to agree
on a one-year deal.
Brian Daubach hit an RBI double and Cesar Crespo followed with a
sacrifice fly to tie the game in the fifth off Joe Nathan, who
signed a two-year contract with the Twins Thursday. Nathan is the
top candidate to replace Eddie Guardado as Minnesota's closer.
Rookie catcher Joe Mauer, the 20-year-old who was picked first
by the Twins in the 2001 draft, walked in the third, took third on
Cristian Guzman's double and scored on the double by Rivas.
Mauer grounded into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play in
"I don't think I'm ready to start the season, especially at the
plate," Mauer said. "Defensively, I'd say let's go. But I've got
to see more pitching. ... I'm not comfortable there yet."
Hammond Stadium, Minnesota's spring home since 1991, was sold
out for the first of five meetings between these Grapefruit League
rivals -- who both train in Fort Myers. Allegiances were split, and
one loud Twins fan taunted the Red Sox rooters near him by chanting
"Let's go Yankees!" and "Alex Rodriguez!"