Twins 15, Rockies 3

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—A.J. Pierzynski made as strong a case as he could for moving up in the lineup.

Pierzynski hit a grand slam in the first inning and added a three-run shot in the seventh, leading the Twins to a 15-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Thursday night.

Torii Hunter, who was given the day off, leads Minnesota with nine home runs. But Pierzynski now has eight homers and a team-leading 41 RBIs.

Pierzynski has badgered manager Ron Gardenhire to move him up from the eighth spot in the order. Asked if Pierzynski’s recent play could prompt him to finally make the move, Gardenhire joked: “He’s leading the team in RBIs, why would I want to move him?”

Pierzynski hit his second career grand slam, had his first multihomer game and finished 3-for-4. His slam came on a 0-1 pitch from Darren Oliver (3-5) with Minnesota already leading 3-0.

The grand slam was part of the first of two seven-run innings for the Twins, who got strong performances all around.

Starter Kenny Rogers picked up his 150th win, rookie Lew Ford went 4-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI, and Matthew LeCroy added a two-run shot and had three RBIs.

But Pierzynski’s homers overshadowed everything else, even though he didn’t want to admit it.

“It was a great night for the team,” Pierzynski said.

And his two home run, seven RBI performance?

“That’s kind of nice, too.”

The All-Star catcher hit Oliver’s fastball into the folded seats above the Metrodome’s right-field wall to complete the scoring in the Twins’ seven-run first inning.

Pierzynski’s previous grand slam came May 7 against Tampa Bay. It’s the first time the Twins have had a player hit more than one grand slam in a season since Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett hit two in 1993.

His three-run shot came off a Javier Lopez slider after back-to-back singles by Doug Mientkiewicz and Dustan Mohr. Pierzynski—0-for-3 on Wednesday night— is batting .336 with six homers and 31 RBIs over his last 30 games.

LeCroy had a two-run homer off Lopez in the seventh to give the Twins a 10-2 lead. After Pierzynski’s shot, Corey Koskie added a two-run double to make it 15-2.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team only score in three innings and put 15 runs up,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.

The Twins took two of three games against the Rockies, who haven’t won a road series this season.

Rogers (5-2) struggled to find the strike zone early. But Minnesota’s big first inning gave Rogers all the cushion he needed to settle down.

“I don’t know what the offensive game plan was tonight, but I liked it,” Rogers said. “It’s a relief to get those runs.”

Rogers went eight innings, allowing three runs and nine hits. He walked just one.

Tony Fiore pitched the ninth for the Twins, who out hit the Rockies 18-10.

“That was a huge night,” Gardenhire said.

Bobby Estalella singled in Greg Vaughn in the second inning and Todd Helton scored on Larry Walker’s groundout in the third. Walker added a solo shot in the eighth.

Oliver, 0-5 on the road, made his first start in more than a week after pitching in relief during Saturday’s doubleheader against Kansas City.

He allowed eight hits in five innings.

“It was a tough first inning, and that was pretty much it,” Oliver said.

Each of Minnesota’s first four batters reached base in the first.

Ford led off the game with an infield single that eluded Oliver’s grasp. Cristian Guzman followed with his 52nd career triple. Koskie walked and Matt LeCroy singled to score Guzman before Bobby Kielty flied out to shallow centerfor Oliver’s first out of the game.

Notes

The Rockies are 8-24 on the road this season and 1-14 in road games in which their opponent scores first. … The seven first-inning runs ties the most given up by Colorado in one inning this season. … The Twins’ record for most runs in the first inning is 11 against Cleveland in 1962. … Hurdle flip-flopped Walker to designated hitter and Vaughn to right field. Hurdle said he wanted to avoid giving Walker three consecutive starts on the Metrodome’s artificial turf. … Guzman’s first-inning triple moved him into fourth on theTwins’ all-time list.

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