Minnesota at Pittsburgh

W: J. Crain (1-4) L: D. Marte (0-5)
S: J. Nathan (10)
HR: MIN - J. Kubel (6), T. Tiffee (1), J. Morneau (16)   PIT - R. Paulino (2)

Twins go deep three times to win sixth straight

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

PITTSBURGH -- The Minnesota Twins aren't a club that hits a lot of home runs. Try convincing the Pittsburgh Pirates of that.

Justin Morneau hit Minnesota's third homer of the game to break an eighth-inning tie and give the Twins their sixth victory in a row, 5-3 over the Pirates on Saturday night.

Twins relievers Kyle Lohse, Jesse Crain (1-4) and Joe Nathan combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings after starter Boof Bonser was lifted after 3 1/3 innings in his first start since June 7. Nathan got his 10th save in as many opportunities and his third in as many games by pitching a scoreless ninth following Crain's two shutout innings.

The Twins were eight games under .500 at 25-33 on June 7, but have won eight of nine to get back to within a game of .500 at 33-34. Their six-game winning streak is their first since last Aug. 14-19.

Jason Kubel and Terry Tiffee, making a spot start at third base, also homered for the Twins in a span of three pitches -- back-to-back drives to start the third inning against rookie left-hander Paul Maholm (2-6).

"I was trying to be aggressive against them, but I left those pitches right over the middle of the plate," said Maholm, winless in six starts since May 16.

The Twins had not hit consecutive homers since Juan Castro and Shannon Stewart did so on May 28, 2005. Even with the three-homer night, the Twins are next to last in the AL with 60 homers in 67 games.

"We've got guys who can hit home runs," manager Rod Gardenhire said. "We're known for slapping the ball around and beating the ball around, but we've been swinging the bats a lot better lately. We've hit some grand slams and we're taking better at-bats with runners in scoring position, all those things."

Kubel, homering for the fourth time in five games, also drove in the run that made it 3-1 with a groundout in the fourth.

Minnesota has won two in a row in Pittsburgh after going 10-24 in its first 34 road games. The Twins came into the series off a 5-1 homestand against the Orioles and Red Sox.

"The team hasn't been winning a whole lot of games on the road, so to keep the good baseball going from the homestand feels good," Tiffee said.

The Pirates, 1-4 on a seven-game homestand, rallied to tie it at 3 on Freddy Sanchez's two-run single in the fourth that chased Bonser and brought on Lohse. Ronny Paulino also homered for the Pirates, a solo drive in the third that was his second in the majors.

Morneau's 16th homer came on the first pitch he saw in the eighth after reliever Damaso Marte (0-5) quickly retired Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer. Morneau is 16-for-36 (.444) during a nine-game hitting streak that coincides with the Twins' recent surge.

"He hit a flat breaking ball that didn't have any depth and stayed up in the strike zone," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said. "They got that one key hit before we could get it."

With Jason Bartlett adding a run-scoring infield single in the ninth off Roberto Hernandez, the Twins improved to 4-1 and the Pirates dropped to 1-4 in interleague play.

Gardenhire lifted Bonser after the right-hander repeatedly fell behind in the count and keep several pitches up in the hitting zone against the middle of the Pirates' lineup during the fourth. Bonser, skipped the last time through the Twins' rotation, has allowed 16 runs in his last 20 1/3 innings.

"He was behind too many hitters, and it didn't look like he was going to be able to locate the ball," Gardenhire said.


Twins 2B Luis Castillo, hitting .198 on the road, got the night off despite having seven hits in his previous five games. ... Mauer, the majors' leading hitter with a .380 average, went 1-for-3 with two walks and is 15-for-35 (.429) in his last nine games and 48-for-102 (.471) in his last 25 games. He is 15-for-27 (.556) in his last seven road games. ... Nathan threw a combined 20 pitches Friday and Saturday after making 42 to complete a two-inning save against the Red Sox on Thursday night. ... Maholm, who leads NL rookies in starts (14) and innings pitched (82 1-3) innings, gave up three runs and five hits over seven innings. ... The Twins must like playing the Pirates: They finished spring training by beating them three days in a row.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Justin Morneau rounds third base after hitting his eighthn-inning homer off Damaso Marte.  (AP)
Justin Morneau rounds third base after hitting his eighthn-inning homer off Damaso Marte. (AP)

Players of the Game

J. Kubel
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1

T. Tiffee
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1

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Minnesota Twins
Nick Punto, 2B5010000 .288
Jason Bartlett, SS5021010 .429
Joe Mauer, C3110201 .380
Michael Cuddyer, RF4010123 .273
Justin Morneau, 1B4111002 .269
Torii Hunter, CF3000110 .262
Jason Kubel, LF4112000 .279
    Luis Rodriguez, 3B0000000 .214
Terry Tiffee, 3B3121100 .278
    Lew Ford, PR-LF0100000 .221
Boof Bonser, P2000003 .000
    Kyle Lohse, P0000000 .000
   a- Rondell White, PH1000010 .182
    Jesse Crain, P0000000 .000
   b- Ruben Sierra, PH1000011 .176
    Joe Nathan, P0000000 .000
a-struck out for Lohse in the 7th
b-struck out for Crain in the 9th
2B - Joe Mauer (19, Maholm)
HR - Justin Morneau (16, Marte), Jason Kubel (6, Maholm), Terry Tiffee (1, Maholm)
RBI - Jason Bartlett (1), Justin Morneau (53), Jason Kubel 2 (17), Terry Tiffee (2)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Bartlett (1), Justin Morneau (21)
CS - Jason Bartlett (2, 2nd base by Maholm/Paulino)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Bartlett-Punto-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Boof Bonser 3.1533111 5.81
Kyle Lohse 2.2200030 8.46
Jesse Crain (W,1-4) 2000010 5.81
Joe Nathan (S,10) 1000010 1.93
Pitches-Strikes - Boof Bonser 47-27, Kyle Lohse 39-29, Jesse Crain 12-9, Joe Nathan 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Boof Bonser 4-4, Kyle Lohse 1-2, Jesse Crain 2-3, Joe Nathan 1-1
Batters Faced - Boof Bonser 15, Kyle Lohse 8, Jesse Crain 6, Joe Nathan 3
Pittsburgh Pirates
Nate McLouth, CF3000100 .221
Jack Wilson, SS4010011 .288
Sean Casey, 1B4000001 .298
Jason Bay, LF4110020 .299
Jeromy Burnitz, RF4110000 .237
Freddy Sanchez, 3B3012000 .347
Jose Castillo, 2B3010000 .293
Ronny Paulino, C3111021 .311
Paul Maholm, P2010010 .115
    Damaso Marte, P0000000 .000
   a- Joe Randa, PH1000000 .221
    Roberto Hernandez, P0000000 .000
a-flied out for Marte in the 8th
2B - Jeromy Burnitz (11, Bonser)
HR - Ronny Paulino (2, Bonser)
RBI - Freddy Sanchez 2 (36), Ronny Paulino (14)
SB - Jason Bay (6, 2nd base off Bonser/Mauer)
CS - Freddy Sanchez (1, 3rd base by Lohse/Mauer)
PK - Jack Wilson (1, Lohse)
Team LOB - 2
Pittsburgh Pirates
Paul Maholm 7533442 4.50
Damaso Marte (L,0-5) 1111011 3.38
Roberto Hernandez 1311110 2.35
IBB - Tiffee by Paul Maholm
Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 107-61, Damaso Marte 6-4, Roberto Hernandez 19-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 13-3, Roberto Hernandez 1-1
Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 29, Damaso Marte 4, Roberto Hernandez 7
Game Information
Attendance - 34085
Game Time - 2:29
Temperature - 83
Umpires - Home - Alfonso Marquez, First Base - Larry Young, Second Base - Chad Fairchild, Third Base - Mike Everitt