Francisco Liriano passes another test in Twins’ win over Baltimore

In his fourth spring start, Liriano struck out five and gave up no runs or hits.

>FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – Francisco Liriano entered his fourth spring training start with the goal of making a favorable impression on his manager.

Consider the mission accomplished.

The Dominican Republic native, hoping to break camp with the team 15 months removed from left elbow surgery and after missing last season, struck out five, walked two and did not give up any runs or hits during four innings of work Sunday afternoon.

Liriano got the win as the Twins defeated the Baltimore Orioles 3-1, with the Orioles getting another erratic performance from starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera.

“The first inning was a little bit like his last start,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano. “The second inning, he started letting it go.

“The ball was moving pretty good. There was a little more progression. The slider had less tilt and more snap to it. He’s stretching out fine. He was better out there than the last time. We’ll see how he does Friday.”

The velocity on Liriano’s fastball averaged 91 to 92 miles per hour, topping out at 93-94, Gardenhire said. Liriano also worked on his slider. He threw 68 pitches and said he threw about 12 sliders.

Liriano, who went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA as a rookie in 2006 until getting hurt, has lowered his spring ERA after each of his past three starts. He lowered it this time from 8.10 to 5.06.

Cabrera, meanwhile, dropped his spring ERA from 3.46 to 3.12, striking out three.

But Cabrera gave up four walks and three runs, one of them earned, off five hits in four and a third innings.

Cabrera also made two fielding errors.

“I thought he held things together pretty good,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “Obviously, the fielding bugaboos hurt him. On the second one, I think he was trying to turn it before he caught it.”

Twins outfielder Jason Pridie went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Catcher Joe Mauer, hitting .355 this spring, went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.

Baltimore’s Chris Heinz, a former Twins catcher, started at first base and went 1-for-3 with a double and his team’s only run.

Trembley said he came away impressed with Liriano.

“I saw him in the minor leagues,” Trembley said. “It looks like he’s getting his arm strength back. He had a lot of movement on his pitches. His changeup looked real good.”