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Liriano K's career-high 12 as Twins blank Brewers for 10th win in a row

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins are winning so much these days that even ultra-talkative center fielder Torii Hunter is speechless.

He grew more incredulous by the second as the list was read to him -- 10 wins in a row, 18 of 19, 20 of 22.

"What! I don't ..." Hunter stammered. "I didn't even think about that. We're playing great ball."

Francisco Liriano struck out a career-high 12 in eight innings and Justin Morneau homered in the Twins' 8-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.

Liriano (9-1) allowed just three hits and won his fifth straight start for the streaking Twins, who have won 13 in a row at the Metrodome to improve to a major league-best 30-10 at home.

The Twins' surge has coincided with the 22-year-old Liriano's insertion into the starting rotation back on May 19. He faced the Brewers at Miller Park in his debut, and he's only gotten better since giving up one run and two hits in five innings to win that one.

"I don't know how many different ways you can describe the way he's throwing the baseball," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's pretty nasty. He dominated the game."

Rookie Zach Jackson (1-1) gave up eight runs -- seven earned -- and walked three in five innings for Milwaukee. He wasn't hit all that hard on Sunday, but an error and two walks in the third got the Twins rolling toward the three-game sweep.

"That's not my game," Jackson said. "I'm not a big walk guy. I need to have control and I wasn't able to do that today."

After Michael Cuddyer's RBI single gave the Twins a 1-0 lead in the first, Minnesota broke the game open with an opportunistic third inning.

Morneau came up with the bases loaded and one out and hit a high chopper toward Rickie Weeks at second. But the ball handcuffed Weeks and scooted past him for an error, allowing Luis Castillo and Mike Redmond to score to start the rally.

Jackson also walked two in the inning, then Shannon Stewart blooped a double to shallow right field that scored two more runs to make it 6-0.

Morneau's solo homer in the fifth -- his 21st of the season -- rattled a suite in right field, and Jason Kubel added an RBI single to make it 8-0.

"I don't care how hot a team is, I have to give my team a chance to win," Jackson said. "I didn't do that today."

Liriano got off to a rough start, hitting Weeks to start the game and giving up a single to Jeff Cirillo. He then stumbled during his delivery to No. 3 hitter Corey Hart, and the balk allowed Weeks and Cirillo to each move up a base.

Liriano walked around the mound gingerly after the stumble and was examined by Twins trainers.

"I don't even know what happened," Liriano said. "I tried to use the slide step and just slipped."

Once he regained his footing, it was all over for the Brewers.

Liriano struck out Hart on the next pitch, then got Carlos Lee swinging before Prince Fielder ground out to second to end the inning.

The Brewers managed just two hits the rest of the way as the Twins continued their remarkable run.

They improved to 16-2 in interleague play, matching the 2002 Oakland Athletics and 2006 Boston Red Sox for most interleague wins in a season, yet remain 10 games behind Detroit in the AL Central.

The dominating June led to a clean sweep of the AL monthly awards for the Twins. Joe Mauer was named player of the month, Johan Santana pitcher of the month and Liriano was named the top rookie, the first time in the five-year history of the trifecta that all three players came from one team.

"That's never been done before," Hunter said. "That's pretty impressive. It lets everybody know that we're playing good baseball."

Notes

  • Cirillo's single in the sixth was his 1,500th career hit. He had two hits.
  • Mauer, the majors' leading hitter, got the day off. He fouled a pitch off his toe in Saturday night's win and also was suffering from a bout of the flu.
  • The announced crowd of 35,466 pushed the Twins' attendance over the 1 million mark, the fastest the team has reached that mark since 1992.
 
Copyright 2014 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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Francisco Liriano pitches eight innings of three-hit ball and wins his fifth straight start.   (AP)
Francisco Liriano pitches eight innings of three-hit ball and wins his fifth straight start. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

F. Liriano
IP 8.0
H 3
ER 0
BB 1
K 12
Minnesota

J. Morneau
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Milwaukee Brewers
Rickie Weeks, 2B3000020
Jeff Cirillo, 1B4020010
Corey Hart, RF4000023
Carlos Lee, LF4000013
Prince Fielder, DH4000022
Bill Hall, SS3000030
Corey Koskie, 3B3010000
Brady Clark, CF2000101
Chad Moeller, C3000021
Totals3003011310 
Fielding
E - Rickie Weeks (, Misplayed grounder)
Milwaukee Brewers
Zach Jackson (L,-) 5787321
Geremi Gonzalez 3400010
HBP - Bartlett (by Zach Jackson)
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Jackson 95-62, Geremi Gonzalez 45-33
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Jackson 7-7, Geremi Gonzalez 3-5
Batters Faced - Zach Jackson 27, Geremi Gonzalez 13
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B3110000
   a- Luis Rodriguez, PH-2B2000000
Nick Punto, 3B4120101
Mike Redmond, C5121002
Michael Cuddyer, RF4111103
Justin Morneau, 1B4222001
Torii Hunter, CF2110100
    Lew Ford, CF1000011
Shannon Stewart, DH3012011
   b- Ruben Sierra, PH-DH1000000
Jason Kubel, LF4011013
Jason Bartlett, SS3100003
Totals3681173315 
a-popped out for Castillo in the 6th
b-grounded out for Stewart in the 7th
Batting
2B - Nick Punto (, Gonzalez), Shannon Stewart (, Jackson)
3B - Torii Hunter (, Jackson)
HR - Justin Morneau (, Jackson)
RBI - Mike Redmond (), Michael Cuddyer (), Justin Morneau 2 (), Shannon Stewart 2 (), Jason Kubel ()
2-OUT RBI - Michael Cuddyer (), Jason Kubel ()
SB - Nick Punto (, 2nd base off Jackson/Moeller)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Rodriguez-Bartlett-Morneau
Minnesota Twins
Francisco Liriano (W,-) 83001120
Kyle Lohse 1000010
HBP - Weeks (by Francisco Liriano)
WP - Francisco Liriano ()
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 103-71, Kyle Lohse 10-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 9-3
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 29, Kyle Lohse 3
Game Information
Attendance - 35466
Game Time - 2:24
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Phil Cuzzi, First Base - Chuck Meriwether, Second Base - Jerry Crawford, Third Base - Brian O'Nora