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Benson's homer highlights good offensive day

Pelfrey struggles in first Spring Training start for Twins

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Justin Morneau went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and Joe Benson hit a two-run homer as the Twins roughed up the Blue Jays' pitching staff early and often in an 8-4 victory on Tuesday afternoon at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

Morneau sparked the Twins in the second with a leadoff single off Ricky Romero. Toronto's No. 5 starter then induced a pair of ground balls and would have been out of the inning, but Emilio Bonifacio's throw turned what could have been a double play into an error.

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Benson, the right fielder, then stepped into the box and sent a 2-1 offering from Romero over the wall in left for his first homer of the spring. That was it for Romero, who threw almost exclusively sinkers while mixing in a few changeups, as well.

Romero was charged with the two runs on two hits and one walk over 1 2/3 innings. He threw just 17 of his 36 pitches for strikes in his first outing of the spring, but the outing was more about fine-tuning a couple of pitches as opposed to utilizing his four-seam fastball and curveball combination.

"Right now, you're worried about that pitch count and getting it right," Romero said. "Whatever happens on the field happens. My job is to go out there and get the outs. Just left a sinker that stayed up and the guy hit it out.

"You take the positives out of this, had a good sinker and trying to get those ground balls and get back to that guy that I was and getting ground-ball outs and getting quick outs."

Morneau added an RBI in the third with a double off right-hander Steve Delabar. Trevor Plouffe, Darin Mastroianni and Aaron Hicks followed later in the game with a pair of RBI singles as Minnesota went on to the easy victory.

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey got the start for Minnesota, but struggled early in the first inning. He allowed an RBI single to Rajai Davis and first baseman Adam Lind followed with a deep two-run homer over the wall in right-center field for his first of the spring.

Pelfrey was charged with three runs on five hits while striking out two in 1 2/3 innings. He threw 32 pitches, including 22 strikes, in his first outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.

"It wasn't the greatest results, I think you always want to have positive results, but I walked off feeling good and that's the most important thing," Pelfrey said. "March 1 will be 10 months [removed from] Tommy John [surgery], so it's another milestone. So, that'll be exciting. But, overall, in my first outing, I was pretty pleased."

Up next for the Twins: Right-hander Kevin Correia is set to take the mound for the second time this spring, when he starts against the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Hammond Stadium. Correia, who gave up a run on two hits over two innings in his first start, is scheduled to fly home to San Diego after the game to attend the birth of his third child. Left-hander John Lannan starts for the Phillies.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.

Minnesota Twins, Joe Benson, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Mike Pelfrey, Eddie Rosario