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Francisco shines under Liriano's lights

Twins hurler making second rehab start for Rochester on Tuesday
April 3, 2008
Francisco Liriano figured to be the main attraction in Fort Myers on Thursday night, but Sarasota's Juan Francisco stole the show.

A rehabbing Liriano (0-1) struck out eight over 5 1/3 innings for the Miracle, but Francisco went 4-for-5 with three doubles and three runs scored as the visiting Reds won, 8-6, in the season opener.

Liriano, who was making the first of two scheduled rehab starts, allowed four runs on six hits and two walks before being lifted in the sixth inning. The 24-year-old left-hander was touched up for two runs in the first, as Francisco led off with a double and scored on a Liriano throwing error.

Liriano struck out the side in the third and retired the side in order in the fourth and fifth innings before a pair of one-out hits in the sixth ended his night.

Liriano will make a second rehab start for Triple-A Rochester in five days before joining the Twins rotation. The Dominican native is an expectant father, and wife Johanna is scheduled to have labor induced Friday in Miami.

After going 12-3 with a 2.19 ERA for the Twins in 2006, the Dominican native underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2006 and missed all of last season.

Francisco, making his Florida State League debut after batting .268 with 25 homers and 90 RBIs for Class A Dayton a year ago, doubled and scored in the second and doubled again in the third. The 21-year-old third baseman then cranked a two-bagger in the sixth and stole home after reliever Cole Devries replaced Liriano. Francisco added a single and scored in the seventh to cap his night.

Chris Valaika smacked a two-run homer and Chris Heisey drove in three runs for the Reds (1-0).

Sarasota starter Jordan Smith (1-0) allowed three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks while striking out five over five innings.

Daniel Valencia ripped a three-run homer and had a sacrifice fly and Wilson Ramos went 3-for-5 and smacked a two-run blast for Fort Myers (0-1).

Steve Conley is a contributor to