The All-Star break has worked wonders for the Minnesota Twins.
After losing 22 of 28 to end the first half of the season, the Twins will shoot for their season high-tying sixth straight victory as they complete a two-game set with the Seattle Mariners at the Metrodome.
Minnesota swept a four-game set from visiting Oakland over the weekend before taking the opener of this series 5-4 on Monday.
“I think the three days (off) helped,” said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter, who homered Monday. “It got us home and relaxing our mind, just resting.”
Shannon Stewart went 2-for-4 with an RBI on Monday, and Chris Gomez provided the go-ahead RBI single for Minnesota, which is enjoying its best stretch since winning six straight from May 4-9.
The Twins moved within 5 1/2 games of first-place Kansas City in the AL Central and evened their record for the first time since July 8.
“Hopefully we can keep on rolling,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Rick Reed will take the mound for the Twins, looking to win consecutive games for the first time this season.
The right-hander, who ended the first half with a 9-4 loss at Texas on July 10, is fresh off Thursday’s 6-2 home win over the A’s. Reed gave up two earned runs and eight hits over seven solid innings.
“He gave us all he had for seven innings and that’s all I can ask,” Gardenhire said of Reed. “He pitched his tail off.”
The Mariners have dropped three in a row for the first time since April 9-11.
Mark McLemore keyed a four-run rally in the seventh with a two-run double for the AL West-leading Mariners. But Seattle’s comeback fell short.
“I like to look at it as a positive sign that we don’t give up early in the game,” manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s a sign of a team that keeps clawing. That’s what we’ll continue to do.”
STANDINGS: Mariners - 1st place, AL West. Twins - 2nd place, 5 1/2 GB, AL Central.
MARINERS PROBABLE STARTER: Freddy Garcia (9-9, 4.66 ERA). After winning six straight decisions while posting a 2.20 ERA, Garcia has gone 0-3 with a 6.35 ERA in his last four. The Venezuelan right-hander suffered a 7-1 loss at Kansas City on Thursday, giving up six earned runs and eight hits over five innings. He also walked two and struck out three. Garcia won 9-5 at Minnesota on June 1, allowing four earned runs and seven hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings. He improved to 3-0 against the Twins with a 2.70 ERA in five career starts.
TWINS PROBABLE STARTER: Reed (5-9, 4.85 ERA). Reed is 2-1 over his last three starts, allowing two runs or fewer twice over the span. He is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts against Seattle this season. In six career games, including five starts, against the Mariners, he is 3-3 with a 2.59 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Mariners - Ichiro Suzuki, .346 avg., 70 runs and 26 SBs; Bret Boone, 24 HRs and 76 RBIs. Twins - Jacque Jones, .307 avg.; Hunter, 17 HRs and 62 RBIs; Stewart, 51 runs; Cristian Guzman, 9 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Mariners, 5-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Mariners - DH Edgar Martinez left Monday’s game with tightness in his left calf after a walk and single. Melvin indicated that he’d be unable to play Tuesday. … RF Suzuki, who was hit by a pitch Saturday and out of the starting lineup Sunday, was back in the leadoff spot Monday. He went 1-for-5 with an RBI. … Seattle has won only one of its last six series. Twins - 3B Gomez, playing in place of injured Corey Koskie, is 8-for-20 (.400) with four RBIs during the Twins’ win streak. … DH Stewart is 7-for-16 (.438) since his acquisition from Toronto last week. … CF Hunter’s homer Monday was his fourth in the last six games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mariners - 32-19 on the road; Twins - 27-23 at home.
INJURIES: Mariners - INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; RHP Kazuhiro Sasaki (ribs), 15-day DL. Twins - 3B Corey Koskie (back), 15-day DL; OF Lew Ford (forearm), 15-day DL; RHP Mike Fetters (hamstring), 60-day DL; LHP Eric Milton (knee), 60-day DL.