Blackburn's outing leads Twins over IndiansApr 20, 2008 - 12:03 AM By Anthony Maggio PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- A solid sinkerball and strong defense behind him was Nick Blackburn's recipe for success.
The rookie righthander pitched 7 2/3 strong innings and helped induce four double plays as the Minnesota Twins blanked the Cleveland Indians, 3-0, on Saturday.
Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer in the first inning and it was all the offense the Twins would need to even up the three-game series at one apiece and snap an eight-game losing streak against the Indians.
Blackburn (1-1) allowed eight hits with no walks and a strikeout thanks to an effective sinker which stifled Cleveland's offense.
"Last year, I built a lot of trust in that pitch," Blackburn said. "So far this season, I've been struggling to get it in the strike zone but, whenever I can get it in there, it's been a real successful pitch for me."
Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook (1-2) got into a groove late in the game - retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced through seven innings - but was touched for three runs in the first two innings. The righthander allowed eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
Morneau gave Blackburn all the run support he needed in the bottom of the first, driving a 2-2 hanging breaking ball into the folded-up seats in right field to end Minnesota's 13-inning scoring drought. The blast was Morneau's fifth of the season.
"I don't know if he wanted it away or in, but the two-seamer pretty much stayed down the middle, and I ended up getting it just over the baggie high enough," Morneau said.
"That's kind of the formula - you've got to get to Westbrook early," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Once he gets rolling along, you can see him getting better and better."
The Twins added their third run when Mike Lamb ended an 0-for-14 slump with a two-out single in the second inning and scored two batters later on Carlos Gomez's base hit. From there, Westbrook held his own.
"He didn't quite have the command he usually does early on," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "But he worked through it and got better and pitched a heck of a ballgame."
Blackburn and Minnesota's defense did the rest.
David Dellucci's double-play grounder ended the second inning, and left fielder Delmon Young threw out Asdrubal Cabrera trying to score from second base on Casey Blake's single in the third inning to keep the Indians off the board. The throw was on a line to catcher Joe Mauer, who blocked the plate to keep Cabrera from touching home on his feet-first slide.
"We just couldn't put an inning together today," Wedge said. "I give credit to their kid, he pitched a good ballgame. But on the flip side of that, I thought we could've done a better job at times. Also, give credit to them defensively. We hit quite a few balls hard they made good plays on."
Blackburn got Cabrera to hit into a double play to end the fifth and stranded Grady Sizemore at second following his one-out double in the sixth. Dellucci hit into his second double play of the day to end the seventh inning.
"He's a young pitcher but he knows what he's doing out there," Gardenhire said. "He's been giving us some good performances to this point and today he finally got rewarded."
Westbrook lost his third straight start at the Metrodome as his career record in Minnesota fell to 1-7.
Reliever Dennys Reyes relieved Blackburn in the eighth and got Sizemore to fly out with a runner on second to preserve the shutout.
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save in as many chances to give Minnesota its second victory in its last seven games overall.
Cleveland, which had won five straight in Minnesota, was shut out for the first time since September 2, 2007 against Chicago.
The Indians got two doubles from Cabrera and a pair of singles from Ryan Garko.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
CLEVELAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
MINNESOTA 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 3 9 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: CLE - JAKE WESTBROOK, JORGE JULIO (8TH) AND VICTOR MARTINEZ
MIN - NICK BLACKBURN, DENNYS REYES (8TH), JOE NATHAN
(9TH) AND JOE MAUER
HOME RUNS: CLE - NONE
MIN - J
Apr 19 6:25 PM
AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
SINGLE BY CARLOS GOMEZ SCORED MIKE LAMB.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C GOMEZ ON FIRST, N PUNTO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
MINNESOTA 3 BOTTOM, 2ND
DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: B HARRIS (.314, 1-FOR-1)
Indians 0, Twins 3 Bot 2, 0 OutsApr 19 4:27 PM
AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY JUSTIN MORNEAU (5) TO RIGHT WITH 2 OUT
IN THE 1ST OFF JAKE WESTBROOK SCORED JOE MAUER.
CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0, MINNESOTA 2
DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: D YOUNG (.266, 0 HR, 6 RBI)
Indians 0, Twins 2 Bot 1, 0 OutsApr 19 4:09 PM
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