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Mauer powers Twins past Indians

Aug 2, 2008 - 4:04 AM By Brian Hall PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Joe Mauer's success against lefthanded pitching helped the Minnesota Twins avoid a possible letdown.

Mauer's two-run homer in the seventh inning off southpaw Jeremy Sowers snapped a tie and Nick Blackburn won for the first time in five starts as the Twins recorded a 4-1 triumph over Cleveland on Friday.

Brendan Harris added two hits for Minnesota, including a double that broke up a perfect game from Sowers in the sixth inning.

Mauer is hitting .369, with six of his seven homers against lefties this season. He has hit .295 against righthanders.

"I have been seeing a lot of lefties this year, and the more times you see lefties, the more comfortable you get against them," Mauer said. "Home runs, I don't know? At that point, I figure, you try and go outside and get me to hit into a double play. He just left it up."

Blackburn tossed seven solid innings as the Twins (61-48) kept pace with the American League Central Division-leading Chicago White Sox (61-47), who posted a 4-2 victory over Kansas City. The White Sox lead the division by one-half game.

Blackburn (8-6) gave up one run and six hits to win at home for the sixth time in his last seven decisions at the Metrodome. Matt Guerrier retired the side in order in the eighth, and Joe Nathan closed it out for his 30th save in 32 chances.

"It would have been easy for guys to take it lightly, but you can't," Mauer said. "In the Central Division, there are good teams throughout, and there is always someone trying to knock you off. We have to keep playing the way we have played."

After a tense, emotional four-game series with the White Sox, Minnesota 's offense was slow to get going against Sowers. The lefthander was perfect through five innings, inducing seven groundouts.

"I think maybe the first time through the order we were a little flat," Harris said. "Waking up in the fifth, getting no-hit just kind of got the juices flowing and guys were getting a little antsy. We say it wasn't, but maybe there was early on. At the same time, we weren't panicking because Blacky was throwing so well."

But Harris got the Twins started with a leadoff double in the sixth. Harris was sacrificed to third, and Carlos Gomez hit a bloop single over a drawn-in infield to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead.

After Cleveland tied the score in the seventh on an RBI single by pinch-hitter Jhonny Peralta, but had the potential for more. With runners at first and second, Franklin Gutierrez laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Ryan Garko was thrown out trying to advance to third.

The Twins eventually walked Grady Sizemore to load the bases, but Blackburn struck out Jamey Carroll to end the inning.

"We let that opportunity there in the seventh get away from us a little bit," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "With the bunt, we need to get that ball to the third baseman there to get Garko to third. Especially on the turf, you get it going to the pitcher, it's going to be tough for our guy at second base to get there."

Minnesota then put the game out of reach in the eighth.

Nick Punto led off with a single and Mauer followed with his seventh home run. Randy Ruiz, who was called up from Class AAA Rochester earlier in the day, added his first major-league hit, a single to right field. Harris then drove Ruiz home with a double to left field to make it a 4-1 game.

Sowers (1-6) finished with 6 2/3 innings, surrendering four runs and six hits.

"In this game you can have everything going great, and then in a matter of five or six pitches it can flip-flop on you," Sowers said. "You could make an argument that that's the most frustrating thing about being a pitcher."

Blackburn and Sowers had similar success against each other the last time out. In a 4-2 Twins victory, Sowers went eight innings, giving up just two runs on three hits. Blackburn had allowed one run on four hits.

Kelly Shoppach had two hits and scored a run for Cleveland, who stranded seven runners in scoring position.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLEVELAND 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 7 0
    MINNESOTA 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 x 4 6 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CLE - JEREMY SOWERS, JENSEN LEWIS (7TH) AND KELLY SHOPPACH
    MIN - NICK BLACKBURN, MATT GUERRIER (8TH), JOE NATHAN
    (9TH) AND JOE MAUER

    HOME RUNS: CLE - NONE
    MIN - J

    Aug 1 10:35 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY BRENDAN HARRIS SCORED RANDY RUIZ.
    SITUATION: 3 RUNS IN, B HARRIS ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 1
    MINNESOTA 4 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: A EVERETT (.175, 0-FOR-1, SAC)

    Indians 1, Twins 4  Bot 7, 0 OutsAug 1 10:08 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    TWO-RUN HOME RUN BY JOE MAUER (7) TO LEFT CENTER WITH 0 OUT
    IN THE 7TH OFF JEREMY SOWERS SCORED NICK PUNTO.
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 1, MINNESOTA 3
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: J MORNEAU (.318, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians 1, Twins 3  Bot 7, 0 OutsAug 1 10:02 PM
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    Indians 1, Twins 1  Bot 7, 0 OutsAug 1 9:56 PM


  • AL
    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JHONNY PERALTA SCORED KELLY SHOPPACH.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J PERALTA ON FIRST, R GARKO ON SECOND, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 1
    MINNESOTA 1 TOP, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: F GUTIERREZ (.213, 1-FOR-2)

    Indians 1, Twins 1  Top 7, 0 OutsAug 1 9:48 PM
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    AT MINNESOTA - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY CARLOS GOMEZ SCORED BRENDAN HARRIS.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C GOMEZ ON FIRST, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 0
    MINNESOTA 1 BOTTOM, 6TH
    DUE UP FOR MINNESOTA: D SPAN (.306, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians 0, Twins 1  Bot 6, 0 OutsAug 1 9:38 PM
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