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Seattle at Minnesota

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Seattle (39-67)000000000020
Minnesota (59-46) «00000400x491

Twins win eighth straight, Liriano fans 11 Mariners

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins rediscovered their swagger against two of the worst teams in the AL.

Next up, 10 road games in 11 days -- including matchups with two of the best clubs in the league.

"We kind of know the secret here," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Sunday after his squad completed a three-game home sweep of the last-place Seattle Mariners. "Catch the ball, your starters go deep in the game, and it gives you an opportunity."

Playing without sluggers Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, the streaking Twins beat the Mariners 4-0 for the second consecutive day thanks to Francisco Liriano's 11 strikeouts, Jason Kubel's three-run double in the sixth and two scoreless innings from the bullpen. They won their eighth straight and completed their second successive series sweep to remain a half-game behind the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

"We'll take it," Gardenhire said. "A nice homestand. A short one, but a nice one."

The Twins have won 10 of 11 overall, all against teams with losing records. But now they head to Tampa Bay for four games and then Cleveland for three. They'll wrap up the road trip in Chicago.

"We're doing everything right now. We're hitting pretty good, we're pitching pretty well," Liriano said. "So we've just got to keep playing the way we're playing and we'll be OK."

Easier said than done on the road, where Minnesota is 26-26. But if the starting pitching continues to hold up, the Twins could return to Minneapolis with the division lead.

Liriano's 11 strikeouts matched a season high. He went seven innings to extend his shutout streak to 21. He has allowed only two runs in his past 28 2/3 innings since giving up seven runs in less than two innings at Detroit on July 9.

The left-hander looked dominant early, striking out the side in the second and fourth. The Mariners mounted their only real threat against him in the fifth when they had runners at the corners with two outs. But Liriano (10-7) induced Ichiro Suzuki into a weak comebacker.

"He kept our hitters off balance. When you have his stuff and you're on and you're hitting your spots, it's pretty tough to hit a guy like that," Seattle's Michael Saunders said.

Kubel ended an 0-for-13 slide with a bases-clearing double in the sixth inning. Danny Valencia followed with an RBI single.

"That was basically the game right there, that inning," Kubel said.

Jon Rauch threw a scoreless eighth and Matt Guerrier set the Mariners down in order in the ninth.

Luke French (0-2) made his second start of the season for Seattle and held his own against a Twins lineup lacking its two biggest stars. French held Minnesota scoreless through five innings before getting into trouble in the sixth.

"He was pretty effective all day long," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "You take the 1-2 pitch away, really, to give up three runs on one pitch is a lot of the damage."

French gave up a single to Alexi Casilla and a bloop double to Delmon Young in the sixth. Michael Cuddyer was intentionally walked to load the bases for Kubel, who just missed his third grand slam of the season.

The Mariners, who managed three runs in the series, lost their seventh in a row and fell to 15-39 on the road.

"When the whole team's not swinging the bat well and we're not getting on base, we're just putting too much pressure on our pitching staff to continue to put up zeros," Russell Branyan said. "Sooner or later, they're going to break. ... As hitters, we have to wake up."

Notes

  • Seattle has used 27 different lineups in its last 27 games.
  • Young has an 11-game hitting streak.
  • Morneau sat in the dugout for the whole game -- the first time he has done so since sustaining a concussion on July 7. The 2006 AL MVP took batting practice indoors Sunday instead of on the field, as originally planned. Gardenhire said Morneau wanted to wait until the team left for its upcoming road trip before hitting outdoors again. "He wants to just kind of ease into it," Gardenhire said. "He didn't want to be center stage. He got his work in. He feels good."
  • Gardenhire said Mauer was feeling some soreness in his right shoulder after receiving a cortisone shot the night before, although he said the reigning AL MVP might be available to DH on Monday at Tampa Bay.
  • Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu held out 3B Jose Lopez (hamstring) again as a precaution. He said Lopez would likely play during the team's nine-game homestand.
 
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 leads the Twins to their eighth straight win and a three-game sweep of the Mariners. (AP)
Francisco Liriano leads the Twins to their eighth straight win and a three-game sweep of the Mariners. (AP)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

F. Liriano
IP 7.0
H 2
ER 0
BB 2
K 11
Minnesota

J. Kubel
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
 
Seattle Mariners
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Ichiro Suzuki, RF4000013 .307
Chone Figgins, 2B4010030 .238
Franklin Gutierrez, CF4000011 .244
Russell Branyan, DH4000031 .254
Casey Kotchman, 1B4000041 .219
Josh Wilson, SS3000020 .255
Matt Tuiasosopo, 3B3000011 .150
Michael Saunders, LF3010001 .243
Rob Johnson, C1000200 .191
Totals30020215  
Batting
2B - Chone Figgins (14, Liriano)
3B - Michael Saunders (1, Liriano)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Figgins-Wilson-Kotchman, Johnson-Figgins
Seattle Mariners
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Luke French (L,0-2) 6744130 6.27
Sean White 1100000 6.55
Brandon League 1100010 3.33
IBB - Cuddyer by Luke French
HBP - Young (by Luke French)
Pitches-Strikes - Luke French 89-64, Sean White 13-8, Brandon League 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Luke French 6-8, Sean White 1-2, Brandon League 1-0
Batters Faced - Luke French 26, Sean White 4, Brandon League 3
Minnesota Twins
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Denard Span, CF4020000 .276
Alexi Casilla, 2B4110002 .282
Delmon Young, LF3110002 .335
Michael Cuddyer, 1B3100102 .276
Jason Kubel, DH4123010 .259
Danny Valencia, 3B4021021 .388
Jason Repko, RF3010002 .324
J.J. Hardy, SS3000003 .260
Drew Butera, C3000011 .184
Totals3149414  
Batting
2B - Delmon Young (32, French), Jason Kubel (16, French), Danny Valencia (8, French), Jason Repko (3, French)
RBI - Jason Kubel 3 (61), Danny Valencia (13)
CS - Jason Kubel (1, 2nd base by League/Johnson)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - J.J. Hardy (3, Throwing)
Minnesota Twins
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Francisco Liriano (W,10-7) 72002110 3.18
Jon Rauch 1000020 2.97
Matt Guerrier 1000020 2.89
Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 109-68, Jon Rauch 12-8, Matt Guerrier 18-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 10-1, Jon Rauch 1-0, Matt Guerrier 1-0
Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 26, Jon Rauch 3, Matt Guerrier 3
Game Information
Attendance - 40374
Game Time - 2:14
Temperature - 86
Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Lance Barksdale, Second Base - Ed Rapuano, Third Base - Tom Hallion