Minnesota hitters rock former teammate in win

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Carlos Silva heard cheers Friday night as he has many times before when he left the Metrodome mound and headed for the dugout. This time, the fans weren’t applauding for him.

Jason Kubel homered and had three RBIs in the seven-run fourth inning and the Minnesota Twins beat up on their former teammate in a 9-3 win. The Twins have won six of eight since losing two straight in Seattle last week, and this time it was Silva standing in the way of a victory.

“We’ve got to get wins from here on out. It doesn’t matter if it’s against a friend or someone else,” Kubel said.

Francisco Liriano allowed no earned runs in seven solid innings for Minnesota, which began the night one game behind Chicago in the AL Central. Liriano is returning to dominant form while Silva continues to struggle like never before.

Facing his former team for the first time, Silva tied a career high by allowing nine earned runs and lost for a league-leading 14th time. After starting the season 3-0, he has won just once in his last 21 starts. In the eight starts since his June 28 win, Silva is 0-5 with an 8.03 ERA.

“He just doesn’t seem to be able to get the big pitch to get that ground ball when he needs it. That’s been his story pretty much all year,” Seattle pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. “We just know that he has the ability but it’s not coming out right now. It was very difficult today. Especially against his old team.”

Minnesota sent 12 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, sending Silva to the showers. The 3 1-3 innings was his fifth shortest start of the year.

Kubel’s two-run homer got the inning started, and Adam Everett, Denard Span and Nick Punto had RBI singles before Silva was replaced by Jake Woods, who gave up RBI singles to Joe Mauer and Kubel. The eight hits were Minnesota’s most in an inning since it had eight April 5, 2005, at Seattle.

“We know what he’s got and he knows about us,” Kubel said. “We just made him work and he got his pitches up.”

Silva (4-14) won 47 games for the Twins from 2004-07 before signing a 4-year, $48 million contract with Seattle in December. He refused to talk with reporters after the game.

In winning his third straight start since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester, Liriano (3-3) wasn’t overpowering—he had just five strikeouts—but effectively kept the ball down in the zone. The Mariners grounded out 13 times against him.

“I’m feeling more comfortable with my fastball, and my changeup is working, too. I feel good to be out there,” he said.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said that Liriano needed to keep throwing his fastball for strikes, which the left-hander did with Minnesota comfortably in front.

“As long as he keeps it up he’ll really help us down the stretch,” Kubel said.

The Twins pounded their former teammate early and often.

Silva, who questioned the commitment of some of his teammates after his last start a week ago, had only himself to blame for putting the Mariners in an early hole.

Span led off the Minnesota first with a double that bounced high off the center-field wall. Two pitches later Punto hit an RBI double to left-center. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Morneau.

“He has great bullpen sessions, but if you leave the ball thigh high you’re going to get hit,” Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said.

Seattle, which lost for the fifth time in six games, tied the game in the fourth when Minnesota’s Brian Buscher booted a ground ball by Wladimir Balentien, allowing two runs to score. Raul Ibanez scored on a double play in the ninth.

Riggleman was ejected in the fifth inning after arguing with first base umpire Mark Wegner. Ichiro Suzuki dropped the ball while transferring it from his glove to his throwing hand, and Wegner ruled the ball was not caught. It was Riggleman’s first ejection of the season.

“You guys can tell by looking at the play. I don’t want to go into details,” Suzuki said through an interpreter.

Notes

Silva last allowed nine earned runs on April 29, 2006, at Detroit. … Minnesota is 26-8 at home since June 1. … Suzuki was 0-for-4 to end a 20-game hitting streak against Minnesota, dating back to May 1, 2006. … Minnesota 2B Alexi Casilla, out since July 29 with a torn ligament in his right thumb, took some ground balls, threw without pain and hit off a tee Friday. The switch-hitter said he felt 100 percent hitting right-handed and 85 percent hitting left-handed. He hopes to hit soft toss Saturday and take full batting practice Monday. … The last Minnesota player to get two hits in an inning was Josh Rabe on July 21, 2006, at Cleveland.

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