MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Kevin Slowey again backed up his manager’s confidence in him.
Carlos Gomez again got the Twins going from his leadoff spot, bunting for two of his three singles, scoring two runs and driving in a run in the eighth.
Jason Bergmann (1-5) pitched better than his last two starts, but lost his third straight for Washington. Minnesota scored eight runs in its last two innings against Saul Rivera, Jesus Colome and Brian Sanches.
“It had the feel like last night where it’d be a 3-1 game, or maybe we’d get one run and let Joe (Nathan) come in for a save in the ninth,” said Brendan Harris, who had an RBI double for the Twins.
Minnesota won the series opener 2-1 and will try for the sweep on Thursday.
Slowey (4-6) allowed one earned run on seven hits over six-plus innings for his second straight quality start. He gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings Friday in Milwaukee, after allowing eight earned runs and 10 hits in three innings June 8 in Chicago. It was part of a four-game stretch where Minnesota gave up 40 runs.
After that outing, Slowey said manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson urged the staff to stay the course.
“They’re big proponents of sticking with what works and not changing stuff every time you give up a hit or give up a run,” Slowey said. “As pitchers, we’re going to have to go through some tough outings and just learn from them.”
Other than a home run by Felipe Lopez, Slowey mostly kept the ball down, stayed away from the middle of the plate, picked off a runner and got out of two middle-inning jams.
After Lopez homered to make it 3-1 in the fifth, Washington got two runners on when Lastings Milledge grounded out to end the threat. One inning later with Dmitri Young on third and two outs, Slowey got Paul Lo Duca to foul out.
“Didn’t matter how good he was. He won,” Milledge said. “I’m not going to sit here and say he was Cy Young, but he pitched well enough to win.”
Gardenhire was especially impressed with how Slowey pitched around those tight situations without letting either turn into a big inning.
“He made some pitches when he had to to get out of jams that he created himself. That’s a good sign,” Gardenhire said. “When you don’t have your best stuff and are not locating as well, you’ve got to be able to do some other things.”
Minnesota nearly turned an around-the-horn triple play in the eighth, but umpire Tim McClelland ruled Alexi Casilla didn’t touch second base as he made a pivot to throw to first. Casilla agreed he missed the bag.
“After I saw the play and I saw him reach up I was really happy to see the guy out at first to get some more people out,” Gardenhire said. “I was happy to see Lexi catch the ball and continue the play more than trying to do something crazy and everybody else is safe.”
Bergmann, who allowed nine earned runs in 7 2-3 innings in his previous two starts combined, allowed one earned run and five hits in six innings.
In seven starts since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus May 14, he is 1-4 with a 3.05 ERA, but has received a combined five runs of support in those games.
He didn’t get any defensive help, either. Washington tied a season high with three errors.
Lo Duca could have been charged with an error on Kubel’s single, and was charged with one after booting Buscher’s grounder in the fourth.
“They’re going to pick me up at certain times. It’s a long season,” Bergmann said. “You can’t get frustrated by that. … They’re fighting through it, so I can do the same.”
Morneau had an RBI single and Kubel a sacrifice fly in the seventh against Rivera.
A two-run double by Delmon Young highlighted a six-run eighth.
Gomez has 29 infield hits this year. … Cristian Guzman had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, longest by a Nationals player this year. Guzman has 11 three-hit games. … Minnesota’s Nick Blackburn, whose Tuesday start was skipped because of a sore elbow, threw a full bullpen session Wednesday and is expected to be ready for his Saturday start.