|Minnesota (63-51) «||0||4||0||0||0||0||0||3||0||7||11||0|
SEATTLE -- Denard Span still has an apartment in Rochester, N.Y, his minor-league residence until five weeks ago. His clothes are still packed in his car.
Time to finally rip up that lease and unpack that ride. There's nothing minor league about Span anymore.
"Boy, he's been some kind of player for us. ... I wish I was his agent right now," said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose Twins won the final game of the series against the American League's worst team.
The Twins had blown leads of 6-0 and 2-0 in the first two games of the series to fall out of first place. They would have blown a 4-0 edge in this one without the catalyst who's quickly become known as "Span Man."
Minnesota led 4-3 in the seventh when Raul Ibanez, who had a Seattle record-tying 14 RBI in three games before going without one Wednesday, singled with two outs.
Jesse Crain relieved Dennys Reyes, and Beltre hit a drive toward the right-field bleachers. Span drifted to the wall, leaped and snared the ball just before it hit a railing and screen protecting fans in the first row.
The ball juggled around inside Span's glove as he triumphantly landed on the warning track. Beltre stood at disbelief between first and second base for more than a minute, his hands frozen to his hips through the inning change.
"That one, I really allowed myself to think was gone," Seattle manager Jim Riggleman said. "I didn't think there was any chance that ball would stay in the park."
Though Span said he can dunk a basketball and "yeah, I have some hops," he said he'd never robbed anyone of a home run in his life.
"In the minors, I didn't play that deep," he said.
His three hits raised his average to .315 in 44 games.
"I never dreamed this," Span said. "I've always had confidence in myself, but I never imagined I'd be helping this team this soon."
The 20th overall pick in the 2002 draft didn't even get a courtesy September call-up last season. Then he lost a spring-training battle with Carlos Gomez in center field and trudged back to that apartment at Triple-A. He has been promoted to Minnesota twice this season only because Michael Cuddyer got hurt, most recently a finger injury for which the outfielder may return next week.
When he does, Span isn't going anywhere.
"He'll bat No. 1, and he'll play every day. I can tell you that," Gardenhire said.
When asked what he has brought to a Twins team that reclaimed first place for the first time in three months with Span starring, Gardenhire gushed like a garden hose.
"Calming. Super defense. Understands the game more. Has grown up a lot," the manager said. "I can't really think of too many things he hasn't done well since he's been back."
Beltre had two hits and two RBI for Seattle. The Mariners were denied a season-high fourth consecutive victory and first three-game sweep of an AL team in their lost season.
Brandon Harris' two-run double off Mark Lowe in the eighth and Span's RBI infield single off Jared Wells later in the inning made the Twins more comfortable for their flight to Kansas City for a day off.
Span could have had a fifth RBI, but Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn (5-11) scrambled to make a lunging flip just in time to first base on Span's drag bunt with Harris at third and two outs in the fourth.
In the third, he hit Washburn's poorly placed 0-2 floater into the right-field corner for a triple. It was Span's 14th hit of the season, and eighth for extra bases.
Washburn allowed five hits and four runs -- three earned -- in six innings. He struck out six and walked three. Washburn has one victory in his past six starts.
|Denard Span (right) not only drives in four runs, but also robs Adrian Beltre of a go-ahead home run. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Denard Span, RF||5||0||3||4||0||1||1||.315|
|Nick Punto, 2B||4||0||0||0||1||1||2||.275|
|Mike Redmond, C||5||0||2||0||0||1||4||.274|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||5||0||0||0||0||1||5||.311|
|Jason Kubel, LF||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.268|
|Delmon Young, PR-LF||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||.290|
|Randy Ruiz, DH||5||2||2||0||0||1||0||.333|
|Brendan Harris, 3B||4||2||2||2||1||0||0||.268|
|Adam Everett, SS||1||1||1||1||1||0||0||.185|
|Carlos Gomez, CF||3||1||0||0||1||2||5||.257|
|2B - Brendan Harris 2 (23, Washburn, Lowe)|
|3B - Denard Span (4, Washburn)|
|SH - Adam Everett 2 (5)|
|RBI - Denard Span 4 (16), Brendan Harris 2 (40), Adam Everett (8)|
|SB - Denard Span (6, 2nd base off J. Wells/Clement)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|DP - Everett-Punto-Morneau, Harris-Punto-Morneau, Nathan-Everett-Morneau|
|Nick Blackburn (W,9-6)||6||9||3||3||1||1||0||3.60|
|Dennys Reyes (H,13)||0.2||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.67|
|Jesse Crain (H,13)||1.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.35|
|HBP - Betancourt (by Nick Blackburn)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Nick Blackburn 101-58, Dennys Reyes 9-7, Jesse Crain 15-12, Joe Nathan 6-4|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Nick Blackburn 7-8, Dennys Reyes 2-0, Jesse Crain 2-2, Joe Nathan 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Nick Blackburn 27, Dennys Reyes 3, Jesse Crain 4, Joe Nathan 3|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||5||1||1||0||0||0||0||.306|
|Jeremy Reed, DH||2||1||2||1||1||0||0||.280|
|a- Willie Bloomquist, PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.280|
|Raul Ibanez, LF||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.290|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B||4||0||2||2||0||0||1||.255|
|Jose Lopez, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||0||5||.306|
|Jeff Clement, C||4||0||2||0||0||0||0||.196|
|Wladimir Balentien, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||2||.202|
|Bryan LaHair, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.286|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, SS||3||1||0||0||0||0||2||.256|
|a-grounded out for Reed in the 7th|
|RBI - Jeremy Reed (19), Adrian Beltre 2 (56)|
|2-OUT RBI - Adrian Beltre (18)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|DP - J. Lopez-Betancourt-LaHair|
|E - Adrian Beltre (13, Misplayed grounder), Jose Lopez (9, Missed catch of throw)|
|Jarrod Washburn (L,5-11)||6||5||4||3||3||6||0||4.76|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jarrod Washburn 102-60, Mark Lowe 29-21, Jared Wells 40-24|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jarrod Washburn 5-8, Mark Lowe 1-1, Jared Wells 3-2|
|Batters Faced - Jarrod Washburn 27, Mark Lowe 7, Jared Wells 9|
|Attendance - 30441|
|Game Time - 2:50|
|Temperature - 76|
|Umpires - Home - Randy Marsh, First Base - Mike Muchlinski, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Mike Winters|