Giants 14, Twins 7

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Nearing the middle of an unusually unsuccessful season and missing Barry Bonds, the San Francisco Giants have been searching for a spark.

They might have found it at the Metrodome this week.

Omar Vizquel had five hits and drove in the tying run in the eighth inning, and Pedro Feliz’s two-run single against former teammate Joe Nathan keyed a seven-run ninth to lift the struggling Giants past the Minnesota Twins 14-7 Thursday night.

“They were like bees,” manager Felipe Alou said. “Our intensity was bigger than anything. They wanted to win a series. We should have won all three games.”

Taking two of three, San Francisco ended a five-series losing streak while collecting a season-high 18 hits. They scored seven of their season-best 14 runs in the ninth. The Giants, who have won just four of their last 19 games, notched consecutive victories for the first time since May 24-25.

“We’re only eight games out, and it’s still early,” said Moises Alou, who went 3-for-4 and noticed his teammates’ spirits pick up after an 8-4 win on Wednesday. “I see a lot of happiness and a lot of trust and a lot of people feeling confident about our team.”

Jason Christiansen (3-1) pitched the eighth to earn the victory, and the bullpen threw 4 1-3 scoreless innings. San Francisco relievers have given up two earned runs in 19 2-3 innings, spanning five games.

After Lew Ford’s three-run home run in the fifth gave them a 7-6 lead, the Twins’ normally sturdy bullpen blew it. With an ERA of 2.54 entering the game, Minnesota’s relievers rank second in the majors.

But Juan Rincon, in the eighth, gave up an RBI single to Vizquel, who went 5-for-6. Then Nathan (1-3), who became an All-Star closer for the Twins last season after arriving in a trade with the Giants, walked Alou and Ray Durham in an ominous beginning to the ninth.

With one out and the infield drawn in, Feliz hit a bouncer that eluded diving shortstop Luis Rodriguez to score two. The runners had moved up on a wild pitch.

Trying to temper his frustration, Nathan wasn’t happy with umpire Charlie Reliford’s strike zone—especially during Durham’s at-bat.

“I didn’t have the greatest night,” he said, “but somebody else not in our uniform didn’t have the greatest night, either.”

Terry Mulholland relieved Nathan after his third walk, and Yorvit Torrealba — who went 3-for-5—greeted him with an RBI single. Vizquel drove in two more with a double to make it 12-7, sticking Nathan with four earned runs. Mulholland then gave up a two-run single to Durham for the final margin.

“It just wasn’t our night,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “If you can make it a six-inning game like that and have a lead, normally with our bullpen we’re going to get it done.”

Rincon, who finished a 10-day ban on May 12 for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs, has been charged with nine runs—seven earned— in 16 1-3 innings after his suspension. Rincon’s grievance, scheduled to be heard this week, has been postponed.

Brett Tomko, who got his first no-decision in 14 starts this season, took a 6-4 lead into the fifth but wound up with his worst outing of the year.

Luis Rodriguez led off the inning with a double, Torii Hunter walked with one out and Ford hit a long drive to left-center field that landed in the seats. The crowd of 18,815 yelled, “Lewwwww!” and Jeff Fassero replaced Tomko — who gave up a season-high seven runs and nine hits plus one walk in 4 2-3 innings, tying his shortest outing of the year. He struck out five.

The Giants finally scored some runs for him, though. In his previous 13 starts, they totaled two runs or less in nine of them and managed more than three only three times.

Joe Mauer hit a two-run homer during a four-run first for Minnesota. Starter Joe Mays allowed 10 hits and six runs—three earned—without a walk or a strikeout.


Alou has 16 hits in his last 31 at-bats. He’s 8-for-13 this week. … The Twins are now 28-3 when leading after seven innings. … Adam Shabala made his major league debut for San Francisco, playing LF and driving in runs on a sacrifice fly in the third and a groundout in the fourth. … Minnnesota SS Juan Castro fouled a ball off his left ankle and was taken for X-rays, which were negative. Still, Castro is very sore with a bruise and will be out for a few days. … Giants 1B J.T. Snow, who left the game after getting hit on the right knee by a pitch the night before, was back in the lineup—going 0-for-5 with a walk. … Minnesota’s Jacque Jones is 2-for-26 against San Francisco in his career. He went 0-for-4.

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