Twins 6, Mariners 5

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SEATTLE (AP)—Losing a home start for the first time in almost two years sent Johan Santana back into perfectionist mode.

“When you lose a game … it’s like starting all over again,” said the Twins’ left-hander, who brushed off the Metrodome setback he suffered in his last start with another fine performance against Seattle.

Santana gave up two early runs then dominated as usual before Joe Nathan cut off a late Mariners’ rally Minnesota’s 6-5 victory on Thursday. The Twins’ three-game sweep at Seattle was their first in more than a decade.

Santana (3-1) improved to 7-1 against the Mariners by using his fastballs on both sides of the plate, while working in his changeup and slider. He allowed four hits and struck out seven in seven innings, making that 4-2 loss to the Devil Rays on April 13 a distant memory.

“Johan was Johan,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Santana had 10 strikeouts against Tampa Bay, but the Twins’ 24-game home-winning streak when their ace pitches was snapped.

He got more support Thursday.

Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run double, and Mike Redmond had a two-run single for the Twins, who have won six of eight. They had last swept three games at Seattle from Aug. 9-11, 1996—a solid bounce back from getting swept at home by the Yankees and splitting a series with lowly Tampa Bay last week in the Metrodome.

“From the first game consistently through the series, everything worked,” said Santana, who walked one.

Raul Ibanez had an RBI single in the first, Yuniesky Betancourt homered leading off the third—and Santana gave up just one hit after that. At one point, he threw nine consecutive first-pitch strikes.

“He’s always tough,” Ibanez said. “You have to jump on him early, because he gets stronger as the game goes on.”

The Mariners didn’t do enough early and came up short late. They trailed by a run after Ibanez hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth off Pat Neshek. Nathan relieved, and Richie Sexson reached on a fly ball to right that dropped for a double when Cuddyer lost it in front of him in the late-afternoon sun.

“These 3:30 games don’t make much sense to me,” Cuddyer said.

Nathan struck out Jose Guillen for his fifth save in five chances.

All 10 Twins who batted had a hit. The 10th batter, Alexi Casilla entered the game in the fifth inning as a pinch runner after Luis Castillo pulled up rounding first base on a double with a strained left quadriceps.

Jarrod Washburn (0-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. He led 2-1 in the seventh, then allowed five runs. The first three came from a pesky bunt-a-thon in which Gardenhire said he was playing simply to get the game tied for Santana.

Jason Bartlett, the No. 9 hitter, bunted to third base for a single leading off. Casilla, attempting a sacrifice bunt, pushed the ball past Washburn, who was not at first base to receive a throw from first baseman Sexson, for another single.

“Two unbelievably well-place bunts,” Washburn said, marveling.

After a sacrifice bunt and intentional walk, Cuddyer sat waiting for a slider from Julio Mateo. After seeing one, hit the second off the left-field wall for a double that put Minnesota up 3-2. Justin Morneau was intentionally walked to reload the bases, and Redmond singled to make it 5-2.


Twins CF Torii Hunter missed his second consecutive game with a bruised left shoulder, but said he hopes to return Friday or Saturday at Kansas City. … Gardenhire said Castillo is day to day. “We’re going day to day with about 10 guys,” Gardenhire said, chuckling. “It’s getting a little hairy.” … Santana was the first LHP Seattle faced this season. The Mariners were the last team to face a lefty.

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