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Escobar lifts Twins with go-ahead two-run single

Minnesota scores final four runs to support Nolasco against former team

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins overcame a slow start Sunday and rallied to defeat the Marlins, 4-2, in a Grapefruit League game at Hammond Stadium.

Minnesota fell into an early 2-0 hole, but scored the game's final four runs -- including two in the bottom of the seventh -- to secure the victory. With runners on second and third, two outs and the game deadlocked at 2, Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar roped a line drive into left field that scored both runners on what proved to be the game's decisive play. Escobar was caught in a rundown and was eventually tagged out between first and second on the play, but the damage had been done by that point.

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The game started with a battle of two starting pitchers each facing his former team, as the Twins sent Ricky Nolasco to the mound and Miami turned to Kevin Slowey, though neither factored into the decision. Each pitcher tossed five innings and departed with the game tied at 2.

In his five innings, Slowey limited his former club to two runs on four hits, while striking out one and walking another. Nolasco, meanwhile, allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out three in his first start since being named Minnesota's Opening Day starter.

"It felt good," Slowey said. "It was good to build off of last outing and be able to throw some more breaking balls and see them working in counts against big league hitters. Having the opportunity to stretch out to five innings was good, too. I'll just be prepared for any role, whatever that might be."

The Marlins jumped out to an early lead when they pieced together three straight hits to start the second inning, the last of which was an RBI bunt single by Reed Johnson that put Miami ahead, 1-0. Nolasco, however, then forced designated hitter Viosergy Rosa to ground into a double play, and second baseman Justin Bohn grounded out one batter later to end the threat.

"I thought it was good overall," Nolasco said. "I didn't walk anybody and it was good to work out of the stretch. Obviously, you don't want to work that much out of the stretch, but that's where you need to make your most important pitches, so it was good."

Miami added another run one inning later when catcher Rob Brantly reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on a wild pitch then scored on a Jeff Baker single to center field to push the lead to two.

The Twins answered back in the bottom of the inning, with right fielder Oswaldo Arcia leading off with a towering fly ball that carried to the warning track in left field for a triple. He scored one batter later on a groundout by catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Two innings later, Minnesota put together another rally to even the score at 2. Veteran designated hitter Jason Kubel worked a leadoff walk from Slowey and later came around to score on an Arcia sacrifice fly to center field.

The play temporarily evened the score and ultimately set up Escobar's game-winning hit as the Twins improved to 7-7-3 in Grapefruit League play, and the Marlins fell to 11-6-2.

Up Next: Shortstop Pedro Florimon is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut Monday, when the Twins head to Sarasota, Fla., to take on the Orioles in an MLB.TV broadcast. Florimon has been recovering from having his appendix removed on Feb. 17. Right-hander Kevin Correia will get the start for Minnesota, opposite Baltimore newcomer Ubaldo Jimenez. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET in the first of two straight night games for the Twins.

Paul Casella is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @paul_casella.

Minnesota Twins, Eduardo Escobar, Ricky Nolasco