Maurer helps power Twins past Angels

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- Facing one of the league's more powerful lineups, the Minnesota Twins outhit the Angels for the second straight night and came away with an 8-6 win on Tuesday night.

Led by Joe Mauer, who went 4 for 5 for the second consecutive game, the Twins pounded out 15 hits at home.

The Angels made a valiant comeback attempt when Mike Trout knocked in two runs in the ninth inning and the tying run came to the plate. Albert Pujols hit a shot off third baseman Trevor Plouffe's foot, but shortstop Pedro Florimon grabbed the carom and fired to first for the final out.

The Twins, who have been outhit in most games this season, had double-digit hits for the second straight night against the Angels. They scorched Angels starter Jason Vargas for nine hits in 3 1/3 innings and had six against the bullpen.

Twins starter Mike Pelfrey lasted five innings, giving up four earned runs and seven hits in his second win of the season. Pelfrey received a huge assist by pitcher Anthony Swarzak, who struck out four batters in 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.

"Swarzak was fantastic tonight," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He ate up a lot of innings out there. He's been throwing really well. He's on a mission. He was just pounding the strike zone with his breaking ball. That was a needed performance and a very good one."

The Angels' hitters had some early success against Pelfrey, scoring three runs in the third. But the big three of Trout, Pujols and Josh Hamilton went a combined 3 for 11 and couldn't get enough big hits to make a difference.

"If you don't control the game on the defensive side, you are never going to have enough offense to overcome that," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We have a lot of confidence in our offense. I think it's an offense that can not only get a lead, but it can break games open. And we haven't been able to do that."

Mauer did make a difference, however, knocking in three runs for the second straight game. He now has nine hits in his last 11 at-bats and has raised his average to .386.

"We've seen him do this," Gardenhire said. "We keep seeing it's incredible. And it is this level to keep swinging and to get those hits like he does -- to rack them up like that. He's just an amazing hitter. He barrels the ball as well as anybody you will ever see."

The Angels have had problems with brief outings from their starters and Vargas didn't solve them. He threw 90 pitches in 3 1/3 innings, including 57 in the first two.

The patient Twins jumped on Vargas for three runs, four hits and two walks in the first two innings.

"They did a good job at keeping some counts alive," Scioscia said. "He threw some really good pitches at times. But it seems like when he was trying to put hitters away they would battle some tough pitches off and get back in the counts.

"At times, it was a matter of getting into a good zone, putting some hitters away, getting some momentum going. For Jason, that's what he's going to need to do and he didn't get that done tonight."

Mauer continued his torrid hitting (eight hits in his last nine at-bats) with two early hits and two RBI to give the Twins a 3-0 lead.

After retiring the first six Angels batters, Pelfrey gave up a leadoff single to Chris Iannetta, a double to D'Angelo Jimenez and a walk to Andrew Romine to set the table. The Angels scored three runs to tie it on a Peter Bourjos fielder's choice, a Trout single and a Pujols base hit to left.

The Twins kept after Vargas, however, getting to him for a single, double and sacrifice fly to take back the lead.

The Angels tied it in the fourth with three singles and two ground balls that the Twins could not convert into double plays.

The Twins answered with three straight singles to regain the lead and knock Vargas out in the fourth. They scored two in the fifth on a bases-loaded single by Brian Dozier for a 7-4 lead.

NOTES: Game-time temperature at Target Field was 45 degrees -- the second warmest game of the season. ... Twins left fielder Josh Willingham was ill for his second consecutive game but was available to pinch-hit if needed. ... The Angels have won nine of the previous series against the Twins and have won five of the past seven games and 11 of the last 16 coming in. ... Coming into the game, the Angels were hitting at .129 (12 for 93) with runners in scoring position.
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