MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Brad Radke looked all but finished in May. His breaking ball wasn’t breaking and his fastball was lifeless, rendering a normally outstanding changeup moot.
He’s had a renaissance in June, and the Minnesota Twins are rolling right along with him.
“I’ve just been making a little better quality pitches when I need to,” said Radke, who scattered seven hits and struck out six. “Changing speeds on my fastball has been working for me.”
In his first 10 starts, Radke was 4-6 with a 7.44 ERA and allowed 14 homers. He has gone 2-1 with a 2.39 ERA and given up just three long balls in his last six starts.
Radke (6-7) has been an integral part of turning around the Twins, who are a season-best four games over .500 (39-35) just more than two weeks after a fourth straight loss dropped them to 25-33 on June 7.
But the Tigers and White Sox have been just as good. The Twins trail first-place Detroit by 11 games in the AL Central.
“We’ve been putting some wins together,” Radke said. “The only bad thing about it is the other two teams in front of us are winning, too. Hopefully we’ll keep winning and they’ll start losing some time here.”
Sean Marshall (4-6) lasted just 4 2-3 innings for Chicago, but he didn’t get much help from his offense or defense.
The Cubs committed three errors and misplayed two other balls in the field. After getting shut out Saturday, they didn’t score until the ninth inning in this one and lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
“We have to right the ship somehow,” ex-Twin Jacque Jones said. “It is getting old. It isn’t one guy, it is everybody. We have to do something to get this thing together.”
Lee, who hit .335 with 46 home runs and 107 RBIs in 2005, missed 59 games after breaking his wrist on April 19. The Cubs went 9-5 with Lee in the lineup, but were just 19-40 without him.
The plan was for Lee to play two games at Triple-A Iowa before joining the club on Monday. But after Freddie Bynum and Tony Womack were injured Saturday night, Lee made the four-hour drive from Des Moines to Minneapolis after going 1-for-4 with an RBI single in his lone rehab appearance on Saturday night.
Lee got a raucous ovation from thousands of Cubs fans in attendance when he stepped to the plate in the first inning Sunday.
But Lee struck out swinging and Phil Nevin bounced into a double play. Lee went 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts.
“Physically, I felt good,” he said. “I didn’t swing the bat well.”
The Cubs had runners on first and second with one out in each of the first three innings, but couldn’t score. After going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position in Saturday night’s 3-0 loss, they were 2-for-11 on Sunday.
“The first three innings we had him on the ropes,” Baker said. “We had trouble getting those RBIs. We got a lot of hits, we didn’t get many runs.”
While the Cubs failed time and again to capitalize on their opportunities, the Twins took advantage right from the get-go.
Ruben Sierra followed with a broken-bat single to give the Twins a 2-0 lead.
The Twins had four straight singles in the third inning, and a throwing error by Jones in right field helped two runners move up a base. First baseman Nevin and second baseman Walker let Morneau’s single squeak through the infield, scoring Mike Redmond.
Marshall allowed five runs—four earned—and six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
A throwing error by Perez in the sixth allowed Sierra to score and make it 6-0. Hunter’s 11th homer of the season, off Bob Howry in the seventh, made it 7-0.
Rodriguez hit a solo shot in the eighth off Ryan Dempster, the second homer he has allowed all season.
Henry Blanco had an RBI single in the ninth for Chicago’s only run.
Before the game, the Twins posthumously inducted 1965 AL MVP Zoilo Versalles into the team’s Hall of Fame. … Womack left Saturday night’s game with back spasms. Baker said he was feeling better on Sunday and is still day to day. … Twins SS Jason Bartlett went 0-for-4, ending his career-high 10-game hitting streak.