Atlanta (35-31) at Minnesota (32-31)

Fair Currently: Minneapolis, MN
Temp: 64° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Thu Jun 14, 2007
  • TV: TBS, FSNO
Preview | Box Score | Recap

A resurgent offense has helped the Minnesota Twins get back on track following a dismal stretch. Now if only they could provide similar support for ace Johan Santana.

The Twins try to complete a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves as they meet in the finale of their interleague series on Thursday at the Metrodome.

Minnesota (32-31) lost six of seven games from June 2-9, getting outscored 42-20 and batting just .210. The Twins have rebounded with three consecutive wins, outscoring opponents 19-6 while batting .343.

They scored all of their runs in the first three innings Wednesday en route to a 6-0 victory. Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs while Torii Hunter went 2-for-4 with a homer and an RBI bunt single for the Twins, who had three homers overall.

Carlos Silva pitched the first shutout for Minnesota since Santana blanked the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 12, 2005. Santana (6-6, 3.24 ERA) will take the mound Thursday, hoping the Twins can continue their hot hitting.

The left-hander has had quality outings his last two starts, but received just three total runs of support in consecutive defeats. He held Washington to three runs and seven hits over seven innings on Saturday, but lost 3-1.

The Twins have scored three or fewer runs of support in nine of Santana’s 13 starts.

“I’m really happy with everything I have done. I know what it takes for me to do my job,” said Santana, who didn’t issue a walk and struck out five Saturday. “Hopefully my teammates feel the same way and find a way to improve and then do a better job out there.”

Despite his latest defeat, Santana is 14-4 with a 2.41 ERA in 32 career interleague games, including 21 starts. The 2006 AL Cy Young Award winner has already matched his overall number of defeats from last season and is now trying to avoid a career high-tying seventh loss, set in 2005 when he went 16-7 with a 2.87 ERA.

Santana dropped his only career start versus the Braves (35-31), allowing two runs and seven hits over 4 2-3 innings of the 3-2 loss on June 12, 2002. Atlanta has dropped eight of its last 11 games and is 1-4 in interleague play this season.

The Braves were shut out for the fourth time on Wednesday, and are now trying to avoid a season-high fourth straight road loss.

“We’re in a pretty frustrating point in our season. Let’s snap out of it soon,” said Chipper Jones, who went 3-for-4 as the DH in his return from the disabled list after missing the last three weeks with bruised hands.

Atlanta will hand the ball to Tim Hudson (6-4, 3.51), who is trying to bounce back after getting injured in his last start. The right-hander left in the third inning after getting hit on his left leg by a sharply hit grounder. Hudson’s leg was swollen, but X-rays were negative and he felt much better the next day.

Hudson gave up five runs and five hits over a season-worst two-plus innings before the injury on Saturday, but didn’t factor into the 9-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs. He has struggled to a 1-3 record over his last five starts, posting a 7.86 ERA and allowing opponents to hit .324.

Hudson is 6-2 with a 2.30 ERA in 12 career starts versus the Twins, but is 0-2 with a 4.15 ERA in his last three games against them.

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Starting Pitchers

T. Hudson SF vs. J. Santana Bal
16-10 Record 15-13
3.33 ERA 3.33
132 K 235
53 BB 52
1.22 WHIP 1.07

Scoreboard

Thursday, Jun 14