Chicago (28-44) at Minnesota (37-35)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 84° F
  • Game info: 7:10 pm EDT Sat Jun 24, 2006
  • TV: WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Mark Prior’s 2006 debut was nothing short of a disaster.

He will look to rebound from one of the worst outings of his career when the Chicago Cubs continue its three-game series with the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome on Saturday.

Prior (0-1, 17.18 ERA), who missed the start of the season with a strained right shoulder, did not take the mound until Sunday against AL Central-leading Detroit—and gave up a career high-tying eight runs in just 3 2-3 innings.

The right-hander was tagged for the three of his four homers allowed during a six-run first inning.

“It doesn’t matter if I’m coming back or had been pitching all year, I basically (stunk) today,” Prior said. “It’s not a good one. But I’ve got to move on.”

Prior, who also made a throwing error, said he felt fine, but struggled with his command.

“I didn’t throw any strikes in the first inning and got behind in the count, and obviously they’re swinging well,” he said. “That’s the bottom line — I fell behind.”

Prior, who has never faced Minnesota, has been on the DL four times since 2004. He went 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA in 2003, helping lead the Cubs to the NL Central title.

“You could see he was off balance, his pitches weren’t going the way he wanted them to,” catcher Henry Blanco said. “I’m sure the next outing will be better.”

The Cubs (28-44) hope so. They have dropped eight of 10, including Friday’s 5-3 loss in the series opener. Phil Nevin homered for Chicago, which fell to 3-7 in interleague play this season.

Jacque Jones, who played six-plus seasons in Minnesota before signing a three-year $16-million deal with the Cubs in December, went 1-for-4 in his return to the Metrodome.

Justin Morneau homered and had three RBIs, and Michael Cuddyer and Luis Castillo each drove in two runs for the Twins (37-35), who moved two games above .500 for the first time this season.

“Right now, we expect to win. There was a period there when we didn’t know what was going to happen,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Minnesota has won 12 of 14, but remain in third place in the AL Central, 11 games behind first-place Detroit.

“We have to worry about ourselves and playing the best we can,” said ace Johan Santana, who earned Friday’s win. “At the end, we’ll see where we’re at.”

The Twins are 8-2 in interleague play this season, but are 6-10 all-time against the Cubs.

Boof Bonser (1-1, 5.81) will look to keep Minnesota rolling. He allowed three runs in 3 1-3 innings of the Twins’ 5-3 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday.

The start was Bonser’s first since June 7 for the rookie right-hander, who was skipped the last time through Minnesota’s rotation.

“He was behind too many hitters, and it didn’t look like he was going to be able to locate the ball,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Bonser, who has never faced the Cubs, made his major league debut on May 21 and is making his sixth start. He has given up 16 runs in 20 1-3 innings in his last four starts.

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Starting Pitchers

M. Prior Cin vs. B. Bonser Cle
1-6 Record 7-6
7.21 ERA 4.22
38 K 84
28 BB 24
1.69 WHIP 1.28