Twins 4, Angels 2

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—The first-pitch strikes and the standing ovation were typical for a Brad Radke start. The scoreless first inning wasn’t.

Radke earned his second win with 7 1-3 strong innings and Justin Morneau had a homer and a triple as the Minnesota Twins won their fifth straight, beating the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 on Saturday night.

Radke bounced back after giving up 11 hits in each of his previous two starts. He gave up two runs—one earned—and seven hits, struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.

Entering the game, opponents were batting .423 with four homers in the first inning against Radke. Despite giving up two hits in the first, Radke made it through without allowing a run for only the second time this season.

Morneau followed with his two-run shot in the bottom half, giving Radke a rare chance to pitch with an early lead.

“It’s nice,” he said with a grin. “It doesn’t happen too often.”

Radke threw a first-pitch strike to 26 of the first 29 batters he faced.

“I think he’s pretty much starting to get it in his head that he has to get better in that first inning,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “His location was better early on in the game and it carried through.”

Radke (2-3) retired nine in a row at one point until Garret Anderson’s double glanced off the top of Shannon Stewart’s glove in the sixth inning. Radke left to a standing ovation in the eighth after Chone Figgins’ sacrifice fly scored Jeff DaVanon to make it 4-2.

Juan Rincon retired two straight in the eighth and Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth for his eighth save in nine chances.

“We’re having some fun on the baseball field,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve got to continue playing like this.”

Radke is 13-6 in 23 career games against the Angels.

“Radke was hitting all his spots,” DaVanon said. “He’s always done well against us.”

While the Twins gave Radke some rare run support, the Angels couldn’t do the same for Kelvim Escobar (0-1), who gave up four runs and nine hits in his second start since returning from an elbow injury.

In 33 starts last season, Escobar received an average of 3.91 runs of support. So far this season, Los Angeles has scored two runs for him.

“Kelvim always pitches well for us. We just don’t score for him,” DaVanon said.

Escobar allowed only two hits in six innings of his first start last Sunday against Oakland, but the Twins got to him early.

After walking Joe Mauer in the first inning, Escobar hung a high pitch to Morneau, who drove the ball into the upper deck in right field for his second homer of the season, giving Minnesota a 2-0 lead.

Los Angeles pulled to 2-1 on an unearned run in the third when shortstop Jason Bartlett’s errant throw pulled Morneau off first, allowing Darin Erstad to score. But Minnesota got the run back in the bottom half when Mauer’s single scored Stewart.

Minnesota added another run in the fourth on Nick Punto’s RBI triple.

“I don’t think Kelvim was that far off,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Once he settled down and put up some zeros, he gave us a chance to come back.”

Morneau has hit safely in six of seven games since returning from a concussion that forced him to miss 12 games. He’s batting .483 with a triple, three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in the seven games.


Angels CF Steve Finley has four hits in his last 38 at-bats. After the game, Scioscia said Finley would rest Sunday. It will be the first game Finley has missed in 2005. … Twins CF Torii Hunter was presented his 2004 Gold Glove Award prior to the game. The award is Hunter’s fourth straight. … Radke threw a first strike to 26 of the first 29 batters he faced. … Figgins has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games. … Erstad went 3-for-4 with a run scored.

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