Twins 5

(14-12, 7-6 away)

Pirates 5

(12-14, 7-6 home)

    1:05 PM ET, March 30, 2005

    McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    MIN 000012002 5 - -
    PIT 010000040 5 - -

    Minnesota 5, Pittsburgh 5

    BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) -- Jason Bay homered in his first at-bat in more than three weeks and Oliver Perez didn't allow a hit. The Pittsburgh Pirates couldn't have gotten much better news with opening day only five days away.

    The Pirates blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning and tied the Minnesota Twins 5-5 on Wednesday, but were encouraged by Bay's return and Perez's determination to not give up a run in a meaningless game.

    Bay, out since May 8 with a bruised left wrist bone, hit a solo homer in the second inning off Matt Guerrier. Perez, the opening day starter Monday against Milwaukee, worked out of a bases-loaded jam he created by walking three in the fourth by getting a popup and two strikeouts.

    While doing so, Perez gave home plate umpire Dan Iassogna a few angry glares and snapped his glove in frustration when catcher Ryan Doumit threw the ball back to him. So much for the assumption major leaguers don't care about spring training games.

    "This was my last start (before the opener) and I didn't want them to score," said Perez, one of the majors' top young pitchers with a 2.98 ERA and 239 strikeouts last season. "It was important to get ready for the first game."

    Manager Lloyd McClendon liked the left-hander's intensity, but not with lifting him after throwing 77 pitches in four innings -- Perez walked five and struck out six. Perez was on a 90-pitch limit, so he threw the final 13 pitches in the bullpen.

    "I liked the way he got out of it, but it's not good that he got his pitch count up," McClendon said. "We need our starters to go seven or eight innings, not four or five."

    Perez led 1-0 when lifted after four, but the Twins took a 3-1 lead against reliever Ryan Vogelsong, who gave up three runs and six hits in two innings.

    Bay got 16 at-bats in minor league games from Sunday-Tuesday and expects to play in the pirates' three remaining spring training games to help him regain his conditioning.

    "Something like that is always good for your confidence," said Bay, the NL rookie of the year who was 1-for-15 before homering. "I was a little nervous, but that helped me to relax."

    McClendon is more concerned about his left fielder's lack of time in the field than he is about his minimal number of at-bats. Bay walked in his only other plate appearance.

    "We're going to build him up the last three days," McClendon said. "We've got to get his legs under him."

    Minor leaguer Jorge Velendia had a two-run double in a four-run Pirates eighth against minor leaguer Beau Kemp that briefly put Pittsburgh up 5-3. Jason Tyner's triple led off the Twins' two-run ninth against reliever Salomon Torres and was followed by second baseman Victor Mercedes' error on Terry Tiffee's RBI grounder and Chris Heintz's sacrifice fly.

    Game notes

    The Twins made no postgame roster moves and may wait until Saturday to complete their 25-man roster. ... The Pirates acquired C David Ross from the Dodgers for cash because backup C Humberto Cota (strained left side) may not be ready by opening day. ... The Pirates committed three infield errors, two by Mercedes. ... Twins opening day starter Johan Santana starts Thursday against the Red Sox. ... The teams chose not to play extra innings.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press