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De Vries continues strong spring showing

Rotation candidate allows one run in three innings to lower ERA to 0.90

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Gerrit Cole, the Pirates' top prospect, and the Twins' Cole De Vries both posted strong outings on Saturday in a pitchers' duel eventually won by the Twins, 2-1.

Cole allowed five hits in four innings, allowing one run and striking out four batters.

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"I didn't have a lot of stuff out there today," Cole said. "I had to go out there and compete. That's part of the game, still put your team in the best spot. I had to pitch a lot more today, without that good stuff."

De Vries, who entered Saturday's game having not given up an earned run in seven innings pitched this spring, saw that streak unravel in the top of the first inning when Alex Presley, who led off the game with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, scored on a sacrifice fly from Gaby Sanchez to make it a 1-0 game for the visitors.

It was the only run charged to De Vries, who worked three innings of two-hit ball, striking out one and walking two in his latest audition for a spot in the Twins' starting rotation.

"I think you'd be an idiot if you didn't know that [there's a spot open on the starting rotation], so I'm going out there and competing every day like one of those spots is mine to lose," De Vries said. "I go out there and pack as much as I can and pitch my game. I feel like if I pitch my game, I'll be fine. I'll have one of those spots. We'll just see how it all shakes out."

Prior to Saturday's game, De Vries had given up just three hits all spring, one of which -- a single on March 9 -- came from Presley.

The Twins countered the Pirates' run in the bottom of the first inning as 23-year-old prospect Aaron Hicks scored on a Josh Willingham groundout to tie the game at 1. Hicks, who's currently fighting Darin Mastroianni for the starting center-field job, went 1-for-4 with a stolen base and two strikeouts.

The 1-1 score lasted until the eighth inning, when Brandon Boggs broke the deadlock with a run-scoring single.

Willingham went 2-for-3 with an RBI

Drew Butera, playing in his first game since returning Thursday from his foray with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, went 0-for-4.

P.J. Walters pitched three innings for the Twins, walking two and striking out one to get the win for Minnesota.

Up next: The Twins travel to Sarasota, Fla., on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET to take on a split-squad Orioles team at Ed Smith Stadium. Right-hander Vance Worley, who has a 5.63 ERA through eight innings of work this spring (three starts) will head to the mound for Minnesota against Baltimore's Steve Johnson.

Melissa Couto is a contributor to

Minnesota Twins, Cole De Vries