Pirates 13, Twins 7

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) -- Carlos Silva has been maddeningly inconsistent for the Minnesota Twins over the past year. His outing on Saturday was more of the same.

Silva lasted 3 1-3 innings, allowing nine runs on 11 hits in a 13-7 loss to Pittsburgh. The Pirates scored eight times in the fourth, seven of them off Silva.

Brad Eldred, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI, hit a towering two-run homer off Silva in the second. The ball sailed over the top of the scoreboard behind left-center field.

"If you're going to give one up, you might as well give one up," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Eldred, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound right fielder unexpectedly fighting for a spot on the opening day roster, then smashed a run-scoring single off the right hand of Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett in the fourth inning. Bartlett finished the inning but later left the game with bruised fingers. His status is day-to-day.

"I didn't really see it," Bartlett said. "It was one of those days where it was tough to see the ball. I could have played through it if I had to."

Said Gardenhire: "It nearly killed my shortstop."

Silva, who went 23-16 with a 3.84 ERA over the 2004 and 2005 seasons, slumped badly in 2006 -- going 11-15 with a 5.94 ERA and losing his spot in the rotation at one point. The Twins picked up his $4.325 million option for this season, confident that his struggles were an aberration caused at least partially by his time spent away from spring training with Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

But he's been up and down -- and mostly down -- so far this month. Silva pitched a perfect third inning and had given up only Eldred's homer while taking a 4-2 lead into the fourth.

He left trailing 9-4.

"We were working on a different arm angle," Silva said. "The first couple of innings, I threw great. I feel good. I only need to be a little more consistent. I'm ready, man. We're here for spring training to get ready for the season."

Silva's biggest problem last year was an ineffective sinkerball, his best pitch.

"My command is still there," Silva said. "Last year is last year. You remember last year. I don't. That's a fact."

Gardenhire stressed that Silva was working on the arm angle in Saturday's start, which made it more difficult for the sinkerball to sink.

"Early, it looked like the ball was sinking," Gardenhire said. "It kind of fell apart in the fourth inning. It's not the type of performance that we're looking for. All we can do is keep running him out there."

Pirates starter Ian Snell gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings while striking out six. He gave up a two-run double to Justin Morneau, and an RBI single to Jason Kubel in third. Luis Castillo scored on his wild pitch in the first.

Game notes
The Twins placed OF Lew Ford (knee) and IF Alejandro Machado (shoulder) on the 15-day disabled list and LH Francisco Liriano (elbow) on the 60-day disabled list. Ford is expected to miss at least another month. Machado is out indefinitely. Liriano will miss the season following ligament transplant surgery. ... LH Randy Choate, who was reassigned to minor-league camp by the Twins on Wednesday, elected to become a free agent.