Twins 6, Nationals 3
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Dmitri Young and the Washington Nationals thought they had an early lead with an upper-deck home run. Then the umpires conferred, the ball was ruled foul, and the Minnesota Twins seized the momentum.
The first inning provided a good omen for the Twins.
With two out and Cristian Guzman on second, Young drove a pitch half a dozen rows into the upper deck in right field. First base umpire Ron Kulpa signaled the ball had gone over the foul pole for a home run, and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire ran to Kulpa to protest the call. After consulting with the rest of the crew, Kulpa reversed himself and called it a foul ball. Nationals manager Manny Acta then went to Kulpa to plead his case, but to no avail.
“You’re like, ‘OK, I’ve got a two-run lead starting the game. Great,” Nationals starter Mike Bacsik said. “Next thing, I hear the fans are cheering because they took away the home run.”
The Twins avoided being swept at home for the first time by a National League team since interleague play began in 1997.
“It was a long process,” said Gardenhire. “But the bottom line is we won the game.”
Bartlett, who had been 0-for-6 in the first two games of the series and 3-for-24 over his last six games, had three hits and recorded just his second two-RBI game of the season.
“Boof was ugly today,” Gardenhire said. “He was lucky to get the win and I hope he knows it. Our bullpen came up big today.”
Said Acta: “We swung the bats good, but we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. You’ve got to give credit to their bullpen.”
Bacsik (1-3) gave up four runs in five innings and took the defeat for Washington. The Nationals left 11 runners on base, tying their nine-inning high for the season.
Minnesota got on the board in the bottom of the first when Luis Castillo doubled and rode home on Bartlett’s single. With two outs, back-to-back singles by Hunter and Mike Redmond and a throwing error by center fielder Ryan Langerhans produced two more runs and a 3-0 lead.
Although there were some bumps along the way, the Twins worked their way to the sort of win they haven’t seen a lot this season.
“Seems like whenever we get good pitching, the offense struggles,” Gardenhire said. “We need to start clicking together more.”
Bonser tested his manager’s patience often, working out of messes in the fourth and fifth.
Minnesota led 4-1 when Ryan Church and Ronnie Belliard opened the fourth inning with singles. After an out, Langerhans walked to load the bases and Felipe Lopez’s RBI grounder made it 4-2. But Bonser fanned Guzman to end the threat.
Washington got within one in the fifth when Belliard’s RBI single—his third hit of the game—scored Young. Bonser escaped further trouble when Brian Schneider flied to center to end the inning.
“I do need to be more consistent,” Bonser admitted. “I got the win today but I am aware of how I pitched. The bullpen saved us today.”
The Twins helped Bonser with 14 hits—three from Hunter, who had his 22nd multi-hit game and fourth three-hit game of the year.
Bartlett improved his batting average from .229 to .240.
“He used the middle of the field more today,” Gardenhire said. “He stayed on the ball every at-bat. We need more of that.”
Joe Mauer, who returned to Minnesota’s lineup Friday after 32 days on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps, did not play Sunday. … Twins OF Jason Kubel is listed as day-to-day after leaving Saturday’s game with a sprained knee. … Both teams are off Monday. The Twins continue a nine-game homestand against Atlanta Tuesday. The Nationals, on a nine-game road trip, travel to Baltimore. … Despite the loss, the Nationals have won three straight road series for the first time since the franchise moved from Montreal. … Bartlett’s RBI single in the sixth and Young’s throwing error in the seventh produced the final two runs for Minnesota.