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Minnesota at Seattle

Scoreboard
Minnesota (74-58)000002000261
Seattle (50-82) «02000100x3101

Lopez, Rowland-Smith lead Mariners past suddenly slumping Twins

CBSSports.com wire reports
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SEATTLE -- That Minnesota Twins' joyride that landed them in the thick of a pennant race is starting to grind -- just when it needs to soar.

Seattle's Jose Lopez drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning and Roy Corcoran got his first career save in the Mariners' 3-2 victory Tuesday night -- the Twins' fourth consecutive loss.

"I don't think we have enough energy or are playing with enough enthusiasm," Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said. "We're not making anything happen right now. We're just hoping. We've got to make things happen, not sit back."

And not fall back much more.

Minnesota repeatedly failed to move runners over and get them in while falling two games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. That's the Twins' largest deficit since July 27. They are also 2½ games behind Boston in the AL wild-card standings.

They are 2-4 on their 14-game road trip, an increasingly ominous trek prompted by the Republican National Convention coming to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Morneau doubled leading off the fourth but stayed there as Randy Ruiz and Delmon Young pulled ground balls to shortstop before Brandon Harris flied out.

An inning earlier, the usually fundamentally sound Twins had runners at second and third with one out, but Alexi Casilla and Joe Mauer grounded out to end that.

"It's the simple things: sac flies, moving runners over," Morneau said in a hushed clubhouse. "We are beating ourselves.

"These are games we should win."

The latest two losses have come against the AL's worst team, which had lost eight of nine games before Minnesota arrived. Now the Mariners have a three-game winning streak, tying their season high.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire tried to keep the clubhouse atmosphere light, joking with a television technician and teasing reliever Eddie Guardado. But Gardenhire hinted his young, surprising team might be doing the opposite of Morneau thinks: trying too hard.

"We're fighting it a little bit, trying too much," he said. "But they are pitching pretty well against us, too."

Yet this isn't Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee the Twins are flopping against.

Ryan Rowland-Smith (3-2), a converted reliever and native of Australia, allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings for his first victory as a major league starter. It was Minnesota's first loss against a left-handed starter in 11 games -- since Lee beat them last month.

Corcoran, up and down from the minor leagues for four years, pitched the final two scoreless innings for his first save in his 53rd career game because closer J.J. Putz had been up or used eight times in 10 days. Putz began warming up Tuesday, too, before manager Jim Riggleman called down to the bullpen to tell his 2007 All-Star to sit down.

"It's a good feeling (and) a good feeling for the whole team in here," Corcoran said. "It's been a rough year."

Rowland-Smith entered the sixth with a 2-0 lead, but the Twins tied the game on a double-play grounder and a solo home run.

Hours after being named the International League Rookie of the Year, Ruiz, 30, flicked his bat at an 0-1 pitch that was low and away and sent it four rows into the right-field bleachers for his first career home run.

"Feels great, but I'm really down right now because we lost," Ruiz said. "We had a runner at second there and no outs. I should have been up there moving him over."

Adrian Beltre, who ended an 11-inning game Monday night with a home run, missed another one by about a foot off the top of the wall in the left-field corner leading off the bottom of the sixth against Scott Baker (7-4). Raul Ibanez followed that double with a single before Lopez hit a sharp single to score Beltre and put Seattle ahead 3-2.

Baker allowed three runs and a season-high 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings, with three strikeouts and three walks.

He said he and his teammates might be starting to feel the squeeze of a pennant race.

"We need to remember why we're doing this -- for fun," Baker said.

"I wouldn't say they are must-win games yet, but it's getting pretty close."

Notes

  • Riggleman said the much-awaited starting debut of converted reliever Brandon Morrow is scheduled to come during a series Sept. 5-7 against the New York Yankees. The fifth overall pick in 2006 is at Triple-A Tacoma making the conversion.
  • Baker has one victory in eight starts since the All-Star break.
  • Even though he had one of his best starts of an otherwise dreadful season Monday, RHP Miguel Batista will not be in Seattle's rotation the next time around. LHP Jarrod Washburn, RHP Felix Hernandez and RHP Carlos Silva, in a return from the DL, will pitch in the weekend series at Cleveland.
  • Newly minted gold medalist Sue Bird of the United States women's basketball team and the WNBA's Seattle Storm threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
 
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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Jose Lopez makes Scott Baker pay in the sixth, as he turns on a 2-1 pitch for an RBI single. (AP)
Jose Lopez makes Scott Baker pay in the sixth, as he turns on a 2-1 pitch for an RBI single. (AP)

Players of the Game
Seattle

J. Lopez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
Seattle

R. Rowland-Smith
IP 7.0
H 5
ER 2
BB 2
K 5
 
Minnesota Twins
Denard Span, RF2000200 .307
Alexi Casilla, 2B3110101 .301
Joe Mauer, C4010003 .318
Justin Morneau, 1B4010002 .307
Randy Ruiz, DH4111011 .318
Delmon Young, LF4000031 .284
Brendan Harris, 3B3000011 .261
   a- Jason Kubel, PH1010000 .272
    Adam Everett, PR0000000 .207
Nick Punto, SS4010001 .287
Carlos Gomez, CF3000011 .255
Totals3226136  
a-singled for Harris in the 9th
Batting
2B - Justin Morneau (35, Rowland-Smith)
HR - Randy Ruiz (1, Rowland-Smith)
RBI - Randy Ruiz (6)
2-OUT RBI - Randy Ruiz (2)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Punto-Casilla-Morneau, Harris-Morneau
E - Justin Morneau (4, Misplayed grounder)
Minnesota Twins
Scott Baker (L,7-4) 6.21033330 3.75
Craig Breslow 0.1000000 2.34
Matt Guerrier 1000010 4.64
IBB - Suzuki by Scott Baker
Pitches-Strikes - Scott Baker 105-74, Craig Breslow 6-4, Matt Guerrier 14-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Baker 6-8
Batters Faced - Scott Baker 30, Craig Breslow 1, Matt Guerrier 3
Seattle Mariners
Ichiro Suzuki, RF3000101 .310
Jeremy Reed, CF3000102 .275
Adrian Beltre, 3B4130000 .252
Raul Ibanez, LF3120103 .301
Jose Lopez, DH4121002 .298
Jeff Clement, C3012014 .227
    Jamie Burke, C1000000 .256
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS4010021 .265
Bryan LaHair, 1B3010013 .268
    Miguel Cairo, PR-1B0000000 .244
Tug Hulett, 2B2000000 .182
Totals30310334  
Batting
2B - Adrian Beltre (26, Baker), Jose Lopez (33, Baker)
SH - Tug Hulett (1)
RBI - Jose Lopez (73), Jeff Clement 2 (22)
CS - Jeremy Reed (2, 2nd base by Baker/Mauer), Jeff Clement (1, 2nd base by Baker/Mauer)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Beltre-Hulett-LaHair
E - Ryan Rowland-Smith (1, Throwing)
Seattle Mariners
Ryan Rowland-Smith (W,3-2) 7522251 3.73
Roy Corcoran (S,1) 2100110 3.34
Pitches-Strikes - Ryan Rowland-Smith 107-72, Roy Corcoran 31-17
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ryan Rowland-Smith 8-7, Roy Corcoran 3-2
Batters Faced - Ryan Rowland-Smith 27, Roy Corcoran 8
Game Information
Attendance - 26292
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Brian O'Nora, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Delfin Colon, Third Base - James Hoye